The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How much does your reading experience of books change if your reading medium changes? This I needed to know when I first agreed to read books on my Kindle. Are “the sweet serenity of books” found in its pages or on in its words – or would Longfellow tell us they are inseparable?
I admit I love technology to bits and pieces and honestly cannot imagine my life without it for any extended period. I am a huge advocate of embracing technology in our lives and truly feel that those who reject it are simply denying themselves an ocean of possibilities to live a fuller experience of their own life. Technology makes our world smaller, our lives easier and sweeter, and our information ridiculously more accessible in immensely higher volumes. It is only human to forget the miracles that technology affords us every day. We simply become accustomed to things and it is not until they are stripped from us that true appreciation and realization kick in. We all love our technology, whether we admit it or not.
Even so, once in a while, a bold technology comes along with apparent intent to completely transform our life long habits. Fear and dismissal are our natural initial responses but perhaps a closer look is in order. The Amazon Kindle for me fell in this category, what with a bold intent to completely transform my reading habits! What audacity! What boldness from a little thin device! Even after I acquired one, I refused to use it – or rather, I wanted to use it but still remain in charge of the situation. I did not wish to be “swept off my feet” to leave my books in the dust, no way, not without careful consideration.
But the hour of judgment had arrived. In June, I cautiously downloaded Alexander Dumas’s unabridged version of “The Count of Monte Cristo” on my Kindle (after recovering from my shock when I found out that I had read the Abridged version years ago! Huge gasp!).
The experience had begun and I always venture out with an open mind; everything deserves a full chance at least once! And it has been one of those relationships, evolving, changing, still young and promising but not without its flaws! Let’s take a closer look on Why I love the Kindle:
The intangible side of love:
I love that it reminds me that the real reason for reading is just that: to read and to digest that which you read.
The real reason is not to hold a book in my hands, to turn the pages, to fall asleep with a book in my arms, to flip back to a section I marked (about 170 in Anna Karenina), or to decorate my shelves with pretty books. No! The simplest and purest reason of all for reading should be to comprehend the writing, to be carried along by a story, to be transferred to a different era, to be swept off our feet by a character in a novel, to be stunned with the depth of beauty and prose in a classic, and to learn. All of this we can do regardless of the medium used to read. I can do it with the Stanza Application on my genius iPhone and I can do it with the Kindle just as well as I can do it with the paperback or hardcover version of a book.
This may seem obvious but when life long habits are tangled up in human emotions, we sometimes draw curtains that obscure the real light from our vision and our real reason for doing things. It is imperative that we do not lose sight of the real purpose for doing things and reading is no exception.
The tangible side of love:
Then there were the rational and compelling reasons once the intangible had pushed me gently over to the “Love Thy Kindle” side, and these seal the deal for me:
~ Practicality ~
I love the practicality of carrying a hundred and one books in the palm of my hand. It is an empowering feeling to be in close proximity of heaps of literature! The Kindle can store 1500 books in its tiny 10.2 ounce (~290 gram) size! That is one skinny library to carry around.
~ Instant Dictionary Access ~
My most favorite feature is the word definitions at my finger tips in under a second. Less time to look up, more time to read. With my books, I would never allow myself to break momentum but with the Kindle, I can have my cake and eat it too. A vegan chocolate cake, of course!
~ The Virtual Switch between Books ~
I used to read books more simultaneously but to carry so many around did not suit my sense of fashion! For trips or travel, you must think in terms of luggage space, efficiency and mobility, not to mention the size of books. With the Kindle, you switch between books by just lifting a finger.
~ Searching for a Name ~
The “Count of Monte Cristo” is an extremely complex novel with dozens of key characters. It just so turns out that you can prompt all locations a particular character appeared in the previous several hundred pages. You can remind yourself by re-reading forgotten sections. The Kindle’s search and locate and go to location features come in very handy!
~ Digital Highlighting ~
For the book blogs, which I do on every book I read, this is the best feature: To highlight sections of the book you wish to remember and perhaps even quote. You can then download these notes directly to your computer, no manual transcribe anywhere. Lovely forethought here, Amazon!
~ World Travel Friendly ~
This 10 ounce baby will remove the inevitable friction with the hubby when it comes to packing. I can carry books to my heart’s desire and never go over 10 ounces! I am not allowed to check in luggage, you see, nearly never, on outbound flights, be it to Tokyo, Singapore or Australia. Return flights are more lenient. My spouse plays the role a cruel travel agent but the benefits are too good to justify putting up a fight – and now my position is much stronger, thanks to the Kindle!
~ Perfect Sun Tanning Companion ~
With the Stanza, I could not read as well in the bright sunlight and sun bathing is a necessity from time to time! The Kindle’s gentle non-glace surface creates beautiful font contrast for reading in the sun and the device never gets as hot as my poor iPhone under sunlight.
~ Free – Yes Free – Books ~
It is impossible to keep up with how many free books, 1cent books and amazing deals you can get with your Kindle. The Gutenberg Project makes over 100,000 books available for free in ebook format, including all literary classics! Oh such joy! So much to read and oh so little time!
~ Storage Problems be Gone ~
Some books have personal value so you can keep it on your shelves – I have these dear copies that I shall never part with. Yet very few books find their place to my heart in such a way to claim a permanent space on my small bookshelf. Storage is a problem especially if you are super organized or live in a small space. This problem is obviously a non-issue with the Kindle.
A New Angle on Reading
The Kindle has a gray scale display so it is naturally a poor choice for recipe books, travel photos and certainly no substitute for art books. I think the psychology of switching to this medium is what makes most of us hesitate. To that I would say, remember this is not a complete replacement for real books. It can serve as an additional medium with which to read more often and from more selections with the ease of all the benefits above. It is important to keep that in mind. The technology is here to make our lives better and to expand our mind and if something so small can encourage and excite our society about the dying art of reading books, then it has served a grander purpose to our culture and our society and our future generations than many other devices can ever hope to achieve.
Still, I wonder if I can read my beloved Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” on the Kindle, come winter!
Share your thoughts:
I wonder what Leo Tolstoy or Victor Hugo would think of the Kindle and reading beyond the printed word. What would our future generations think of the printed book? And which option is right for you? Do you feel really strongly about having real books in your hands or do you just wish to consume the information in whatever medium or format? Love to hear your thoughts!
Disclaimer: I do not use the Amazon affiliate program and all my thoughts here are sincere and serve no purpose other than to inform you about my love for the Kindle.