A few weeks before my last birthday, my husband said to me "There's something I want to get you for your birthday, but I think I need to ask you a question about it first" and I said "I'd like the global wireless version". And then I laughed because I could tell I'd guessed right.
So I have a Kindle now. I thought I would primarily use it when traveling so that I didn't have to carry around so many books and worry that I'd be stuck somewhere without a good book to read. I have had some traumatic experiences related to not having an adequate supply of (good) books on trips.
For example, there was the time when my daughter was a baby and, by coincidence, every book I brought with me on a trip somehow involved a young child either dying or being orphaned. There was an even earlier time when I ran out of books while backpacking alone through Europe and the only English book I could find was Shogun, which was so awful that I ripped out each page after I read it and threw the book away, piece by piece, as I made my way through the former Yugoslavia. And there was this harrowing experience (skip to last paragraph for relevant info). There have been other such experiences, despite fervent attempts to avoid them.
For trips that involve long flights, my personal formula is to bring 5-6 paperback books for each week of professional travel, and more if there will be leisure time. I also bring along an issue of The New York Review of Books because the interesting content/gram ratio is very high. If I really like a book, I will also bring it home, so some books make the entire trip with me. On multi-week trips, I can sometimes acquire books during the trip, but on some trips I just end hauling around a lot of books.
But not anymore. I still need 1-2 physical books for the times when electronic devices must be stowed during takeoff and landing and in case the Kindle needs recharging at an inconvenient time, but otherwise I have all the books I need in the Kindle.
I miss the beauty of real books and the the variety of fonts and book designs. And I miss having a physical sense for how long a book is. The Kindle method of reporting the % of each book read is deeply unsatisfying. However, I find the Kindle pages very easy to read and navigate, and clicking to turn the page can be extremely handy when you have a large cat pinning down one your arms.
I still read physical books because some of the books I like to read are not well represented on Kindle, especially in the obscure (to Americans) international fiction category. But I use the Kindle for non-travel reading far more than I expected.
Mostly I read Literary Fiction on my Kindle, but I am contemplating branching out into non-fiction; in fact, I just put the new book by Rebecca Skloot on my Kindle.
As I write, there are 41,454 books listed in the Science category of the Kindle webpage. This is more than are available in Arts & Entertainment (34,360), Business & Investing (35,468), and Sports (a paltry 5,841). In fact, Science is the biggest non-fiction category.
My excitement at this factoid was somewhat diminished when I realized that many of the Science books are actually "science" books; for example, Freakonomics, Omnivore's Dilemma, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and some of those books you are supposed to read when you are pregnant but that mostly just freak you out. If you search on these books by name, you never find out that they are classified as Science, but if you search on Science as a category, there they are.
I'm OK with including these "science" books as Science books. I'm not a purist about what constitutes Science and what doesn't. Science is everywhere, we can't live without it, and I think it's a good thing if many non-technical books are classified as Science in recognition (even if for mercenary reasons) that science is part of everything. As long as we don't take the broad definition of Science too far, I'm all for it.
5 months ago