Have you moved to the world of electronic books yet?
I had been trying in vain. I even bought a Kindle; I have yet to really use it. The thing is, traditional books are a pain to give up. I am addicted to turning the pages, feeling the text, holding the book, marking my place, writing in the margin, and seeing a visual progress from start to finish. As if that is not enough for a permanently happy relationship, I like the absence of technology in a book. These sweet elements add pleasure to my reading experience. A shift into the electronic world, even for an avid consumer of technology such as myself, almost feels like a betrayal to the true essence of books.
Even so, something happened last week quite unexpectedly to change my view point: out of pure curiosity, I installed the Stanza App on my best friend in this world – my genius iPhone! The Stanza App people tell us:
Stanza is a Revolution in Reading. A free application for your iPhone and iPod Touch. Use it to download from a vast selection of over 100,000 books and periodicals, and read them right on your phone. It’s a wireless electronic library that stays open 24/7.
And they are not kidding! This little application is a revolution in reading. In under 3 minutes, I had started reading Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and had no intention of stopping. The strangely addictive story telling of Lewis Carroll was combined with the sharp, clean format in which the text appeared and the swift way with which the pages “turned” with a touch of my fingertips. Soon this turned into a healthy obsession and in 3 days, I had finished a book I would have otherwise not ever read. I share the unique benefits of this new reading experience with you in these words:
Filling the Idle Minutes of your Day:
I did not read hours at a time; I simply filled the random minutes of an average busy day with pure reading. Minutes when I would be eating my breakfast, waiting for my tea to steep, enjoying a car ride or waiting in line at checkout. I also moved my social media buttons to the last page of my iPhone to eliminate the idle distractions which steal those minutes from me day in and day out. What if you had something to show for at the end of the day for those subtle, hidden minutes?
A Dictionary at your Finger Tips:
I may be alone in this but I rarely look up the words I do not know when reading a novel. The context will simply have to give it away, that or I ask my husband: “Quick! What does this mean?”. I don’t much care to interrupt the reading flow to accomplish the task of looking up a word, easy as it may be. With Stanza, the dictionary is naturally one of the main tools incorporated right into the application (same with the Kindle). You click on a word, look it up and are back to reading without shifting an extra muscle or disrupting your zen mode. I admit, I looked up a lot more words (strange, bizarre words I would never use in conversation but no matter) in reading “Adventures of Alice in Wonderland”.
Free and Instant Access to a World Classics:
Welcome to the world of free books! The Stanza gives you instant access to more than 25,000 digitized books thanks to Project Gutenberg among many other sources. I dare say you will never finish even the best of the free collection with all the time in this world. The very best part of reading this way is how you would read what you otherwise never would. I can honestly say that Alice in Wonderland is no where on my long reading this but curiosity about the influence of this book in pop culture as well as just pure enjoyable unplanned nature of the reading took over and I went with the flow without changing much of my priorities.
Using Annotate Feature for Book Blogging:
Stanza application allows you to “make notes on the pages” by annotating sections that you wish to reference later. This took a little bit of editing as I wanted to group some of my annotation but it is an excellent tool for remembering your favorite sections or writing a book blog. It was also an empowering section, reminding me I am still in charge and I am the reader even in this virtual reading mode and that was important to my psyche!
A Tiny Device to Carry Books Large or Small:
This is where economy of space wins over big time. Carrying your books everywhere with you in the palm of your hand. I admit, it’s quite powerful. Add to that the secrecy of you reading without anyone noticing. You could be reading the world’s greatest novel and mistaken for just checking email. Reading is such a deeply personal habit that now you can do it in private while in public. I just like the clandestine nature of the whole operation.
At least, I have a new found respect for reading in an electronic medium and feel only excitement and appreciation for tools which enhance my reading experience. The Kindle awaits me next as I find the perfect balance between traditional and electronic books, all for the love of reading and reading as much as conceivably possible.
As for this children’s literature classic, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, I loved Lewis Carroll’s unique writing voice; I nearly wish I read this story as a little girl but we are never too old even for children’s books! It’s a wonder because I hardly enjoyed another classic, “The Wizard of Oz“. I always want to understand what makes some books become such a monumental part of pop culture and find their way into our everyday idioms and expressions. There was a momentum pushing me forward in this story, deeper into the rabbit’s hole and all over wonderland with its bizarre nonsensical happenings. I think this book is a classic because of the play on pure logic and the simple ways it shines a light on the obvious. The fantasy world aside, those bits of logic add food for thought for all of us and here are some of my favorite words and passages:
Alice: “Oh dear! I’d nearly forgotten that I’ve got to grow up again! Let me see – how is it to be managed? I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is, what?”
Caterpillar: “Who are you?”
Alice: “I – I hardly know, sir, ….at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
Caterpillar: “What do you mean by that? Explain yourself.”
Alice: “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir because I am not myself, you see.”
Alice: “The way all the creatures argue it’s enough to drive one crazy.”
Duchess: “If everyone minded their own business, the world would go round a deal faster than it does.”
Alice: “Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where – ”
Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,”
Alice: “Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”
The March Hare: “You might as well just say that ‘I like what I get’ is the same thing as ‘I get what i like’!”
The Hatter: “If you knew Time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting It. It’s Him.”
Alice: “I don’t know what you mean.”
The Hatter: “Of course you don’t”, …. “I dare say you never even spoke to Time.”
Alice: “I’ve had nothing yet so I can’t take more.”
The Hatter: “You mean you can’t take LESS. It’s very easy to take MORE than nothing.”
Alice about the Mock Turtle: “What’s his sorrow?”
The Gryphon: “It’s all his fancy, that; he hasn’t got no sorrow.”
(And my all-time favorite)
The White Rabbit asks: “Where shall I begin, your Majesty?”
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely. “and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”
Reading is the best pastime for an active mind! If you like to see the other book reviews, check the index of In Print.