Reading

Nails painted to match “Shades of Blue” Fintie case for Kindle Paperwhite

At the start of 2017, I made a promise to myself to read more. And it started out well enough; my mom gave me a whole series of regency-era romance novels that she’d picked up at a used bookstore, all six of which I devoured in the span of about six weeks. And then I picked up my paperback copy of 1984, having decided to reread it in light of the current political climate. And there, I stalled. The book sat on my desk, staring at me from beside my monitor. I picked it up a few times in the intervening months, but only managed to get about halfway though. It’s a depressing book, and not much fun to read.

But there was something more to it than that. While reading the regency romance novels (A House for the Season series by Marion Chesney, if anyone’s interested), I kept tripping over outdated words that I couldn’t exactly define. I could infer the general meaning from context, but I often came across words that I really wanted to know the ACTUAL definition of. So I’d have to put down the book and look up the word on my phone.

There’s another issue with paper books: the binding. I often fold open and crack the spine so the book will stay open (I know some of you are cringing in horror right now), and even still you can’t just hold the book, you have to hold the book open. This can be awkward depending on the book, may take two hands (or just tire-out one hand), and makes reading in any position other than “sitting up” a bit of a chore.

And then, there’s portability. Sometimes I only have a few minutes to kill, and it’s not always when I’m at home. While I’m willing to carry quite a bit in my purse, adding novels to the list wasn’t really appealing.

I do have the Kindle app on my phone, and have done some reading that way. I have a habit of purchasing the kindle-version of all my favorite books, despite having physical copies of all of them, so my Kindle library is pretty extensive. But the phone’s screen is small, and it has a million distractions, and it just wasn’t a very pleasant experience. Reading on my iPad is out of the question, because with the added weight of the clam-shell keyboard case, the weight is just too much for my wrists to comfortably hold for long periods of time. And both my iPad and PC have the same issue as my phone: distraction after distraction after distraction.

And then, C.G.P. Grey mentioned in a podcast that reading on a Kindle was really just a much better experience for him. I’d bought a Kindle Paperwhite for my mom for Christmas, and was surprised at how small and lightweight it is, while also having a generous reading surface. I’d previously owned a Kindle Fire, but that’s a larger, heavier tablet. Eventually I had given the Fire to my mom, and then the battery eventually stopped charging, and it was more expensive to repair than to replace. Hence the Paperwhite for Christmas. And as I set up the Kindle for her (before wrapping it up), I spared a few moments to marvel at the light, sleek design, and the thin and fashionable case I’d purchased for it. Then I set it out of my mind.

But when Grey mentioned that reading on a Kindle was a better experience for him, the thought of my mom’s Paperwhite came back to me. She’s really enjoyed reading on it, and it’s small and light enough to throw in a purse if there’s a chance of down-time to read. And I also thought “Dang it, I am supposed to be reading more this year.”

I used to read quite a bit as a kid. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, but seemed to have less and less time to do as an adult. I think reading is important, even if it’s fiction. I don’t consume a lot of fiction on a yearly basis, but I think any form of reading has some value. Even rereading books is helpful, since goodness knows I only retain a fraction of every story with each reading.

So I asked my husband if I could buy myself a Kindle. Not that I really need permission, but we usually discuss any purchases over about $30 with each other. Of course my husband is supportive and encourages me, and said “Of course honey, it can be your anniversary present!” We don’t really do presents on holidays most of the time.. if we see something we want, and we can afford it, we don’t need holidays as an excuse to make a purchase. But this happened to fall right around our 2nd anniversary, so it was a cute excuse.

And so, I purchased a Kindle Paperwhite. And I am LOVING it so far. At times when I have a few minutes to kill, when I’d normally pull out my phone and play a random game (Fruit Ninja, Yes Chef, PokemonGO) – instead I am making progress in reading a novel. I am enjoying the device so much that I’ve even found the time to step away from my computer on purpose to go read.

I’m not really familiar with how notes and annotations work on a Kindle, but I’d like to go through and reread all my favorite series of books, taking notes along the way. What book did this thing happen in? When was this character introduced? I hope to create a summary and/or timeline of my favorite series within the Kindle, which I hope will help me better understand and retain the stories and worlds I love to dive into.

Time will tell if the Kindle keeps me reading more frequently than I have done in the recent past. Is this just a novel (no pun intended) new toy that will lose my interest in a matter of months? It doesn’t feel so. It feels like my whole library was previously in a dank cellar, dark and foreboding, where I could only sometimes convince myself to tread. And now, my library is a glittering palace, beautiful, but also warm and inviting, where I look forward to spending as much time as possible.

And also, because I’m a nail polish nerd, I painted my nails to look like my Kindle cover. It’s pretty and it makes me happy.