Reading in blinkers
That was one of my first reactions to reading on my Kindle Paperwhite which my husband gave me for my birthday in December. Given that I am thinking of making two of my Cassandra novels available as ebooks, it seemed time to try out the technology for myself. It has made me more conscious of the way that I read, which is not always in a strictly chronological order. Yes, that is the general thrust, I do (mostly) start at the beginning and go through to the end, but I tend to roam about, sometimes going back to remind myself about a character or something that has happened earlier in the novel, sometimes skipping forward a bit and then doubling back. It is not impossible to do this with a Kindle, but it is quite a bit harder. Reading something that has a fairly straightforward narrative arc, like many crime novels, is fine, but I wouldn’t want to read War and Peace on a Kindle. The big read that my book group choses every year as an optional extra is currently Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate which is a hefty 855 pages. I have bought that as a proper book, because I will need to read it over a substantial period of time and will want to have it all at my fingertips all the time. Another thing: I hadn’t fully appreciated how much I love books as physical objects, even when they are battered old paperbacks – sometimes especially when they are battered old paperbacks holding the memories of where I first read them or bought them. So is the Kindle the total washout that I thought it might be at first? No, I am using it, but mostly in bed and mostly for crime novels. It is going to be very useful for travelling,though what happens if it gets broken or stolen or lost? I just know it will be belt and braces for me and I shall be tucking in the odd paperback and World’s Classic just in case. Speed of access is of course another advantage.The other day I wanted to read something by Washington Irving as reseach for something I’m writing. My first thought was the London Library, but then I saw that it was free to download – and I didn’t have to wait for it to be posted out to me or pay for the postage. So, my Kindle is here to stay, but it won’t be completely replacing the printed word for me, as it has for some of my friends. And it won’t be replacing the London Library either.