The Goldfinch: Would you download the e-version if you already owned the book?

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I know this (further) exposes me for the lazy person that I am, but the physical weight of the book really got to me after a while!

With a book as acclaimed as The Goldfinch by Donna Tart — that it has won the Pulitzer also helps — you just know it will make an impressive addition to your bookshelf. I know I did! And it looks good up there too. Except… I couldn’t finish it.

That wasn’t for lack of trying though. I read it greedily everywhere I went. In the bus to work, at work, at lunches I arrived to early on purpose and just before bed.

The issue was, and this is going to make me sound like a cupcake, while I loved the book immensely, my neck, arms and shoulders could NOT take the weight of it anymore. At over 850 pages, it actually made one of the straps of my handbag come loose. Sure, I could have probably bought a sturdier handbag, just appreciated the gentle workout, or been sane and unloaded things unnecessary to readers such as wallets, snack boxes and hand lotions. But after a point, I’d had enough. And now I walk by the title proudly displayed on my bookshelf every single day and think: You know, I should have really downloaded that on my Kindle!

As of now, I’m waiting for the right moment, maybe when I feel a little less guilty and more self-indulgent, to download this book I already own. I mean, seriously! Who in their right mind would buy a book and download it to their ereader just so they don’t have to work hard to hold it up to the light?

That would be me, hello, nice to meet you, I’d shake your hand but that’s too much of a workout so…

What would you do if you were faced with my situation?

This post is part of The Saturday eReader series. Read more posts here

A lament for Kindle Jane

Last week, as I went on and on about my faithful old Kindle, I totally forgot to mention that it wasn’t the original device I started out with. My first Kindle died on me two years into service because of something rather stupid that I did.

Going through some archives, I found this old blog post and recalled how upsetting that time had been. Do you remember a time when Amazon wasn’t in India? When there weren’t certified service centres to deal with your Kindle related issues? This was written around that time: My lament for Kindle Jane.

Originally published in July, 2012 on The Caterpillar Cafe
janeTwo train rides in and I consider it a miracle to have finished 25 percent of If You Can’t Stand The Heat (Poppy Markham: Culinary Cop) by Robin Allen on my smartphone. Between phone calls, Whatsapp messages and the rush hour crowd knocking my device out of my hands, one can’t dismiss the discomfort of physically reading a book on a 3.7” display screen.

I like the idea of a Kindle app for different devices, but I don’t like reading books on my phone. It’s a bit of a betrayal to my Amazon Kindle ebook reader. But then again, my friends told me it was the ultimate betrayal to the smell of books when I bought my device two years ago. At the time, I dismissed their blind devotion to physical books, choosing instead to harp on about the device’s absence of backlight, pencil thin body, the thesaurus that came installed, and the fact that the battery lasted for 30 days on a single charge.

Since I’ve owned my beauty – never named her unfortunately – she’s managed to accumulate and store over 30 books. Many of the reviews on this blog were written after experiencing different worlds – magical, mythical, real, surreal – in e-carbon ink. That was until a few weeks ago when I let the battery get so low that it refused to come back on. When I googled it, I learned that if you slide the power button and held it for over a minute, the system would reboot. And voila! Reboot she did. Or at least only a small crack in her corner did. The rest of her is still hijacked by the Jane Austen screensaver.

The time was ripe to find a Kindle service centre, an impossible task it would seem, since Amazon hasn’t officially launched in India.

“Are you travelling to the US anytime soon?” I tried my luck with some well-heeled friends.

“Nope.” “Nada.” “Erm…” “December 2013.”

My matchbox-sized room can’t handle any more books and I’m really not in the mood to replace a device to which I’ve grown so attached. But I can’t keep away from books forever, can I? Because if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that we’ve read books in different shapes, forms and sizes — pocket classics, coffee table books, anthologies, trilogies and novellas. But if you allow that to change their functionality in your mind’s eye, you will never read again.

After all, some of the same friends who scorned me for selling out to the tablet revolution two years ago just asked me, “Why don’t you just buy an iPad?” Maybe this is something I’ll get used to? Or maybe I’ll go blind.

On the bright side, I think I finally have a name for my Kindle: Hello Jane, please don’t die on me.

Now Reading: It by Stephen King

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It is highly unusual for me to read three books in two weeks. I don’t remember going through that much fiction since my final board exams in college – ten years ago!

I guess I’ve had a good couple of weeks. Lucky even, to have discovered some amazing reads like The Boy who could see Demons and Elenor & Park (review coming soon).

I said to myself, you know, it’s good to have turned so many pages so fast. Why not take on something a little more ambitious, classic even!

I have wanted to read It by Stephen King for years but I haven’t really had the courage. Partly because I remember snippets from the movie I peek-a-boo’d though my fingers as a child. But also because, and I’m ashamed to admit this, I haven’t had the best luck with Stephen King novels in the past. The stories sound fascinating on the jacket, but once I hit the pages, I just find myself lost, in my own imagination no less, spacing out.

But given the few weeks I’ve had, I feel really confident that I can take this little monster on. It’s also my last book for 2014 so I’m hoping the mammoth size or the wooly section of my brain doesn’t discourage me from finishing it. Or at least giving it a good, honest attempt at a start.

Here goes!

Now Reading — A book I can’t stop reading

IMG_20140526_115806“…There are plenty of people who, you know — people who still like the smell of books.”

“The smell!” Penumbra repeats. “You know you are finished when people start talking about the smell.” He smiles at that – then something occurs to him, and he narrows his eyes. “I do not suppose you have a… Kindle?”

From Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

It’s been a while since I’ve discovered a book I just can’t stop reading… on the bus. Before bed. On my lap in office while feigning a headache. And everywhere in between. Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore reminds me of one of those books mentioned in Harry Potter. You know, the sort you just can’t stop reading? Seems I’ve discovered one of those books, doing my chores in between the lines. I wonder though, if Mr Penumbra would mind that I’m reading this story on a Kindle instead of a hardback. Ah well. From the way things are progressing right now (I’m 45% through) I’m pretty sure he won’t mind.

Review coming soon!

The slow train to literary heaven

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There was a time in my life, a few years ago, when I read for four hours every day. Three hours on the train to work (there and back again) and another hour before bed. I read an average of three books every month. When I ran out of books and didn’t have money to buy more, I’d just re-read the books I set aside for re-reading.

I didn’t know then that this was as good as it would get in my ‘career’ as a reader.

It has been a while since I read a book from cover to cover. I thought at first it was because I moved cities, started a new life and didn’t commute to work anymore. But having started a new job which comes with a long, long commute — an hour and fifteen minutes each way — I thought I would go back to a book a week again.

But a bus that twists, turns, swerves and honks has nothing on a train that doesn’t make any sudden moves. If anything the gentle lull from side to side is more soothing than sitting in a bed with the covers up drawn to your knee.

A train is a thing of beauty, dear reader. You’re going somewhere but as long as you’re inside you’re going nowhere. Life is ‘happening’ but you’re not going to be part of it until you reach your station.

The train is, without a doubt, the best place to read epics and and fantasies and mysteries and romances because as long as you’re on it, there’s nothing for you to do and nowhere for you to go except forward. Which is perhaps the best direction in which to be if you want to read, isn’t it?

I’ve stopped reading since my days commuting on the train. The bus is too loud and noisy and sunny and hectic. But there is still some hope for me, I suppose. I’ve started listening to audio books.