Monday, April 12, 2010

The Kindle, Again

My dad surprised me with a Kindle for my birthday about six months ago. I was thrilled, but, truth be told, I haven’t used it nearly as much as I planned to. I downloaded a raft of free classics right away and even re-read This Side of Paradise on the PATH train.

To be honest, however, the prospect of reading Kant on the Kindle on the morning commute is a little bit of an uphill climb. I haven’t done it.

Fitzgerald, to be sure, is less of a challenge and I fared better with him. Still, I found the Kindle made my novel reading a little more scattered—somehow, and in spite of that %-read sign down below, I found it more difficult than usual to keep track of the plot and where I was in the arc of the story. On the plus side, however, I was really tickled when I belatedly remembered there had been some business about a taxi in the book and could simply search “taxi” and find each appearance of the word. It’s too bad that, when I go to write about it, there’s no easy way to translate the %-read or page marks to page numbers in a print edition, but I can do that by hand, no doubt. In fact, that %-read sign distracts me and eggs on my competitive side.

That is just part of what I thought from the beginning: that the Kindle really would be ideal for reading bestsellers: ephemeral books of the moment, books that are more fun to read when they come out but that you may not want or need to own in a personal library.

At dinner in Seattle last week, our friends both raved about Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Game Change. Since I was traveling (with my Kindle and a lot of books), it made sense to download it and I’ve just loved reading it. The book is really fun: well-written, full of gossip, and fast-paced. As long-time readers here know, I was really engaged in the 2008 election and my taste for hearing about it has not slackened. But reading along on the Kindle, and watching myself rise from 22% done to 35% done, has made the reading itself into a race just as merry as reliving the election (without all the angst and worry about the outcome this time around).

So, I have renewed enthusiasm and purpose for the Kindle. I’m always really interested in those nonfiction books that people devour fast and I love to read them fairly soon after they come out, so the Kindle can be my spot for that.

There are so many different kinds of reading: some really do require a lovely edition, others are just fine online, others—somewhere in the middle—look to me like they’ll work great on an e-reader. 

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