It’s been a strange Christmas in many ways but also one where I have been shocked to find out that I have been totally wrong about a strongly held idea. I’m open minded about most things, but my mind had been firmly closed about this issue for about sixteen years. If I say that I received a Kindle for Christmas which I hadn’t asked for, things might become a bit clearer about where I am going with this.
It might be a good idea to explain where the distaste for the electronic reading device came from. Sixteen years ago, I was on a writing course and attended a lecture about writing and the future. A guest speaker gave the lecture and as the evening wore on he made me more and more depressed as his discourse consisted mainly of threatening my whole way of life as a reader. As Roland Barthes had written in his famous essay that “The Author is Dead”, so this speaker seemed to be saying that the book was dead. He gleefully wittered on about how we would not sit reading physical books anymore but would have these electronic reading devices which would send books down a type of telephone line. I came away from that lecture feeling as depressed as if a lover had ended our affair and I hoped desperately that the chap giving the talk would physically get sent down someone’s telephone line.
So why did the idea of sitting looking at an electronic device instead of holding a book alarm me so much? Reading is one of my greatest pleasures and therefore the atmosphere when reading a book has always been important to how I feel about life. For instance, I remember sitting by a coal fire at about thirteen years of age having just picked up my very first Agatha Christie murder mystery. The room was silent apart from the very loud ticking of the clock and the odd hiss from the fire. My grandmother had developed a need to hoard confectionery after the food rationing of the war and had a long sideboard in her bedroom full of packets of Tate and Lyle sugar and boxes of chocolates. She’d given me a box of Milk Tray and the chocolates lay open on the arm of the chair as I devoured the details of the delicious murder by the safety of the fire. As my hand wondered into the chocolate box to find my favourite strawberry flavoured one, my eyes left the book for a moment to glance towards the window. The moment my eyes met the ones leering in at me, the book fell to the carpet and momentarily, I was in my book. I stared at the nose with huge hairy nostrils pressed up against the glass and after my initial fright, I become furious and stamped to the front door to berate the middle aged man who was peering in at me. It turned out to be someone with learning difficulties who had wondered off from the house he was visiting and decided to look at what I was doing. However, that feeling when I was lost in a murder in a vicarage with a face peering through the window at me will stay with me forever when I read a cosy murder mystery.
(Sir Henry Irving was a real-life inspiration for the character of Dracula.)
So have my opinions changed since I have owned a Kindle? I have to say that they have. This Christmas, I have sat by the fire with Mildred, the cat stretched out on my knee, a box of chocolates on the arm of the chair and reading Agatha Raisin on my Kindle. I have to admit, I was just as transported as if reading a physical book. I’ve also been reading “Dracula” and when Jonathan Harker was being taken to the Count’s castle in the coach with the wolves circling it, I was there. It’s a strange way to begin a new year, admitting that I have been wrong all these years but hey ho, it means that I can now carry a full library with me wherever I go!
- Syncing books to Kindle devices and apps (macworld.com)
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- Top 5 Ways to Score Free Books For Your Kindle (fatwallet.com)
- Kindling Kindle Part One: Ebooks, the New Censorship, and the Ancient Very High Civilization (gizadeathstar.com)
- Confusion. On my Kindle. (gwynweyantsgreatlyblessed.com)
- Instant expert – Kindle (johnlewis.com)
- Kindle 5th Birthday (infographicgallery.co.uk)
- Living with Smoke – Availability (cleanboard.wordpress.com)
- Paper Textbooks: An Endangered Species? (digitalsurgeons.com)
- Musings – book or ebook? (angulam.com)