Why E-Books? A Personal Experience.

A page from Anne of Green GablesIn spite of so much progress in technology, I have sometimes seen folks shudder when the issue of reading a novel/book, from any other format than print, is brought up. Some people seemingly dismiss all technology out of hand without understanding it, simply because it’s something new.

My children are mostly grown. We brought our children up to love reading and visited libraries almost weekly.

Up until about 6 or 7 years ago, reading had fallen off my radar as a hobby. I had other interests: music, knitting, spinning, but reading, not so much.  I occasionally borrowed books, but didn’t actively pursue reading.

I had heard about stand alone e-readers but still was not piqued. My previous experience with e-reading a few years before had been enjoying the unlimited access to online reading at Project Gutenberg. I had fun revisiting my favorite public domain books, Anne of Green Gables, (a page of that is in the photo above)  Pride and Prejudice, etc.

One day, my husband and I were riding transit, and we noticed an acquaintance holding and reading her new Kobo.  I had never seen one in person before, and I asked her if I could see it. She was reading a classic, Anna Karenina, I believe.  She showed me how the text looked on the page, and how to turn a page, look things up in the supplied dictionary with the touch of a word, and I was very intrigued. So intrigued that I immediately set about finding a budget to buy one.

Around the same time, I discovered Calibre, an e-book library manager. Calibre had a direct link to Project Gutenberg, and Mobileread’s public domain library. (The two aforementioned sites have thousands of public domain literature, formatted into e-book formats, for just about any e-reader imaginable). Well, I was like a kid in a candy store! I happily downloaded my old favorites, plus a few I had wanted to read before but had never bought them. I think the first book I read cover to cover via calibre was Ethan Frome, and the experience was so wonderful. I could hardly wait to get an e-reader.

Fast forward to today. I now have my favorite reader which is a Kindle Paperwhite, while borrowing e-books and audio-books, via Overdrive, on my phone.

Here is what I like about it the most. First of all, the lightness of the device, and the smooth feel of the device. Adherents to printed books report enjoying the feel and smell of the paper, whereas I am the opposite. I’m quite fussy about how a book is put together, to the degree where I’ve often returned books to the library where I disliked the binding, font or other things. However, the smooth feel of the Kindle was comforting.

I also enjoy being able to have a choice of dozens, to hundreds of books in my purse! All the while satisfying my minimalist aspirations of reducing clutter. And yes, call me a heretic, but I do consider hundreds of unread books just sitting on the shelf collecting dust, with the responsibility left to me to maintain, to be clutter!

Then there is the reading interface. I get control over the font and margins, and can configure any book to read precisely the way I like it! I’ve discovered that my reading preferences are a large font, big margins, exposing only a digestible amount of text at a time per screen.  Something like this:

A sample of my favorite font and margin settings on my Kindle

This has increased my comprehension of reading a hundredfold. It has enabled me to read far more than I would have, were printed books to be my sole source!

I’m over 50, and my eyes are aging a little bit, I like the gentleness of the screen (e-ink does not tire my eyes out like my phone, tablet or computer screen tends to if looking for long periods), and being able to read without the aid of my reading glasses. I can read at night with my Kindle propped up at my bedside table, and just tap to the next page until I fall asleep. Then the Kindle falls asleep after a short amount of idle time.

I also am not fond of extroverted forms of shopping. So it is with gratitude that I am able to enjoy borrowing from the library, or buying books, from the comfort of my own chair in my house.

In conclusion, e-readers and the accompanying technology have converted me from someone who was rather neutral about reading, to someone who now looks forward to reading, buys more books firsthand (supporting authors) and who is never without a book. We never know when an available segment of time will present itself.

It’s not a Competition

In many years I have opted out of joining reading goals.  I had erroneously believed them to be competitions, where people read anything and everything they can get their hands on and not care what it is, as long as they can tick off as “done” for a number. If that were true, I likely wouldn’t join. I am not often into zeitgeist, or with mindlessly joining trends for attention.

But at the end of many years, I realized that it would have been nice to have a written record of my reading life for the year, to reflect on it.

The irony of this particular year, is that I am now starting book #7. Last year I wasn’t on book #7 until July or August.  The first week I had a power outage and read because there was nothing else to do, and I had a few really good books that I just couldn’t put down.

This has inspired me to try to read more books. I see it as an interesting challenge, not a race, not a competition, but something I will do to improve my own reading life.

My favorite read this past week was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  I had previously read another book by that author, so was skeptical after I purchased it. (I had an e-mail alert that it was $1.99 for a limited time, a few months ago).  However I found myself magnetically glued to my Kindle the entire 5 days or so it took me to read. It was about the plight of two sisters in France during WWII and was heartbreaking and thrilling to read.

I also really enjoyed a light, fluffy read called “Twelve Days of Christmas” by Debbie Macomber.  It was about a woman who is hoping to get a social media job, and the criteria being, can she make a blog that generates the most hits? She is a sunny extrovert with a positive attitude who lives across the hall from a man who is the opposite. Her good friend encourages her to “experiment” on this man by being kind to him no matter what, and to blog about it and see what happens.  I like easy to read romances, and this fit the bill after the heavy emotional read of The Nightingale.

 

I will continue to post more about my reading this year. I don’t think I have any readers. but it will be fun to look back on this year to reflect on my reading choices and what I thought. It is making time fly a little faster.

Reading in 2018

In looking at my previous post, I realize I did kind of overshoot, and the year is only a couple days old so far. I do plan on using this as a reference for a few reading goal ideas, anyway. The purpose of it was just to brainstorm ideas for what I might decide to read. But life isn’t always on a linear curve and even with things that are optional, like my hobbies, I change my mind a lot.

However, I have finished my first read of 2018. I am going to call it that, because even though I started a couple of days before New Years Day, I did read the bulk of it (at least 75% of it) in a few hours on New Year’s Morning (yesterday).

The title is A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson.   A couple of days before Christmas I purchased it for my Kindle and put it on my queue. The author was on a few Facebook groups, and I had heard a few good things about it, so for $0.99 it was low risk.

The main character, Sukie McClaren, is an independent single woman in her 30s. She is a long time fan of the movie “The Sound of Music”. She is sent away on a business trip to Salzburg in December, and decides that while she’s in the neighbourhood, she may as well extend it for personal vacation time too, so she can see some attractions from where the movie was filmed.

Through a comedy of errors, she winds up meeting and making friends with pop star, Pete Wallace, who is there on tour and on a press conference.

There is a sub-plot with a man named Eduardo who is seeking revenge for the pop star. Three years prior to the story, his sister was injured at a Pete Wallace concert, and Eduardo has spent the years leading up to the present day plotting for how he is going to carry through with his plan.

I tend to prefer books that are low in expletive language, and focus on the story, rather than on bedroom scenes. This book fits the bill. There are a few expletives and there is a passing acknowledgement of bedroom activity. The story has a real depth of friendship and the character development is amazing. It kept me turning the pages and I really got to know and care about the characters.

I look forward to writing about more books that I read this year. I also have signed in with the Goodreads reading challenge as well as the 50 Book Pledge, both of which I have found fun and low-pressure over the past couple of years. I want to read more each year, and enjoy books, but I have no desire to make the “count” be the main goal. I want to read for pleasure. The “score-keeping” is just for fun, and I have never felt any sense of failure if I don’t follow through on every idea that crosses my path.

Starting to Compile my Goals for 2018 Reading.

I have a Kindle and I also read on my Overdrive app on my phone (Overdrive in Canada does not loan Kindle books). I also do occasionally borrow physical copies if I can’t afford or can’t borrow the e-book.  But my Kindle is where the love remains, mostly.

While I do have a goal of “Number of Books” to read, I’ve also decided to create topical goals to keep me interested.

  • Read a Book or Series Recommended to me by my In-laws.   They have good taste in literature and I’ve rarely been disappointed reading something they’ve put on my radar. This year it is the Gamache Series by Louise Penny. My husband has been reading aloud and I’ve been reading along with him on my Kindle.
  • Read at Least 2 new (to me) Public Domain Reads from Project Gutenberg.  I have already read a great many classics and have favorites. However there is always more to discover in literature that has stood the test of time and become “classic”.
  • Read a Book that Appears to Sympathize with a Concept I Disagree with.  The title “Adultery” by Paulo Coelho. I noticed a comment by someone who is currently reading it that says it looks like the author is making excuses for reasons why people commit adultery.
  • Read a Cozy Mystery Series in order.  My current choice, subject to change, is the Savannah Reid series by G.A. McKevett.  Even if I don’t finish all of the books, I want to read them in order.
  • Re-read one Old Favorite.  This will be the least difficult goal to accomplish. I mostly reread so this is not really a challenge, but a no-brainer.
  • Read 2 or more Young Adult novels.  I like young adult novels, and this will be fun. I hope I read something new that I will enjoy.
  • Read one Stephen King Novel. I’ve only ever read one novella of his. “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” (from which the 1994 movie was adapted). This is contained in his Short Story compilation “Different Seasons” I want to read a whole novel. I’m pondering the most recent one “Sleeping Beauties” that he co-wrote with his son Owen. (Again, subject to change). His genre is usually not something I am attracted to.

This is very different from last year. But last year made me realize that I needed to give myself specific goals rather than just “randomly pick whatever” (Using the “Smart Goal” way of thinking).

Books

In my year (in which I posted very little) I discovered something about my criteria for what makes me want to read a book. CONTENT RATING! Similar to how movies and TV shows are rated (on IMdb for instance). with a heads-up advisory about what you might find in it.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support in the book world for this type of thing. Especially if you happen to be “thinking of the children”. Said concerned people are often told, “Whatever gets them reading! Why censor?”

I’ve always been puzzled at the hypocrisy about how video games get rated, Movies get rated, television shows get rated, and parents who place certain boundaries and limits on what they allow them to watch or play are applauded. To admit doing the same thing with books and people blanch and are horrified. What is so sacred about books that they get a free pass in letting certain content in?

I don’t agree (in the slightest) with banning books, but I do agree with parents and potential readers being warned of sensitive content (rape, violence, explicit sex, swearing and cursing language). As of the date of this writing, neither Goodreads, nor Amazon has such a segment where users can add such things. You have to comb through hundreds of reviews, and maybe you will find one that warns about sensitive content.

My children are all grown now, and they make their own choices about books.

My primary concern is for my own self. I’ll be reading all about a recently published book, and believing the story is right up my alley, will promptly put the book on hold at the library. Then 26 pages or so in, Person A will grab Person B’s xyz and a lot of gasping and groaning happens and continues for a dozen pages before the actual story continues.

I also don’t want to be limited to Christian literature, (I am a Christian but I don’t want to be preached at in my literature, I want morals to just be a given rather than a finger wag), baby books, YA literature (much of which also contains some sensitive scenes).

So I’ve joined some “Clean Reads” groups on Goodreads. Because it appears that I am not alone.

My tastes in what I watch and read have started to align more with my core morals. Not because I don’t believe in FUN, but because it’s a law of nature that we reflect upon and dwell on things which have entertained us and moved us, and I want to keep the clutter out of my mind, and enjoy the good things in life.

My first post from the Android app.

I’m wanting to get more into two things: podcasts and reading.

What better way to re-start these two interests than by listening to a podcast about reading?

On occasion I had watched the Book Riot videos on YouTube,  and listened to some of their podcasts.  So I started up Podcast Addict on my phone (I like this app so much I ended up buying the ad-free version) and discovered that for over 20 episodes they have a newer podcast called All the Books.  The link takes you to their archive so you can download it on any device you wish.

I enjoy listening to them talk about up coming releases and ideas for my ever growing queue of TBR books.  I use my library card for both digital and physical copies. 

I also am thinking of starting a diary for my books.  Nothing fancy, just loose-leaf in a duotang, or a scribbler.  Titles will often pique my interest and then of course life will boldly interrupt my daydreams. I like to keep track of where I first heard of a book,  why I’m interested in it,  and then the results.  I do use Goodreads for the social media side of things.  But it’s good to have a place to ramble about random nothings, too.

I want to start being a better reader.  All too often I’ll get excited about a book, start it and then get distracted.  I’m excited about finding new books to read. 📚