Reading

Each month, I commute 60+ miles from Hood River to Portland, OR in order to attend a multiple myeloma support group hosted by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Today’s meeting featured a speaker from my doctor’s oncology group, Northwest Cancer Specialists. The subject was an update on December’s annual conference of the American Society of Hematology.

The back of our house-blue skies before the storm

The ASH meetings provide the latest in research on all blood cancers, including, of course, multiple myeloma. I’ve already examined much of what went on at this conference but I looked forward to asking questions unanswered by the press releases. Unfortunately, winter weather prevented me from traveling through the Columbia River Gorge.

We only received three inches of snow. However, the weather pattern consisted of a relatively warm Pacific storm with significant moisture butting up against a stationary cold front. The transition causes freezing rain and treacherous driving conditions in the Gorge.

Instead of a Q & A on myeloma, I spent the day with my new Christmas present, a Kindle. The Kindle is a brand name for a book reader sold only through Amazon. What’s a book reader? It’s a digital device into which books may be downloaded wirelessly and read from a screen similar to a book’s page.

When the weather is nice, I like to read on this bench under the Walnut tree

The Kindle does for book portability what the iPod did for music. Theoretically, I can carry around with me a personal library of reading material. Better yet, I can supplement that library wherever I find a Wi-Fi connection.

Prior to owning a kindle I deluded myself about the importance of sensual contact with printed pages. Those reservations went out the window once I put mine to use. The elegant design and simplicity of operation converted me instantaneously.

My Kindle library now contains four books. 61 Hours by Lee Child is a barnburner of a mystery, a perfect temporary remedy to crummy winter weather. Memory Wall is a collection of short stories by Anthony Doerr. The prose is excellent; the tales are compelling. The locations vary while always examining the theme of remembrance. I highly recommend this book.

Currently, I’m into The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli along with another collection of short stories, What Becomes by the fascinating Scottish writer and comedian, A. L. Kennedy.

My Kindle came with a bodyguard

I read a lot. Book readers do not make reading easier or more fun. At the moment, I’ve still several questions about their shortcomings. Things such as how to loan books to friends, or what happens if you lose or break your Kindle. In time, entrepreneurs will come up with satisfactory answers.

Whether or not you find this brief review intriguing, rest assured that the way we read and access books is changing. As Kindles and their competitors develop, the utility of book readers will, for better or worse, alter the conventional necessity of bookstores and libraries. There is no going back.

PS: My favorite book of 2010 was The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. If you’ve ever owned a dog or cat, gerbil or parrott, turtle or pet rock, read this book.

 

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6 responses to “Reading

  1. Hehe. When Stefano suggested that I get myself a Kindle, I replied, horror-stricken, “Are you OUT of your mind? I will NEVER EVER own one of those horrible devices…blablaangryblabla…”
    But now, after reading your post…hmmm…I might not be so…adamant. Besides, I am particularly intrigued by the Kindle bodyguard… 🙂
    Thanks for the book titles!!! 🙂

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  2. Another friend highly recommends the Kindle as well, and like Margaret I have been somewhat resistant, but I use an Ipod and have downloaded books to my Mac, so perhaps I am on my way to shifting my perspective… at any rate, I love your book reviews and that is very tempting indeed! If it will save trees, it’s a good idea.

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    • Sandy, I think the iPod is better than buying an e-reader. It’s light is better for reading at night. You can still download the kindle reader for free on your iPad (or other readers if you have another preference). I prefer the iBooks reader for now (Apple’s). I am slowly moving away from my Sony, because it doesn’t let me buy many books that others do. Something to do with Canada / US copyrights – which only seems to be a problem for Sony.

      If you want to get library books, check with your local library to see if they support iPad.

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  3. John.

    Thanks for the reading list. I am an avid reader, and my library at home is my treasure. It is sorted alphabetically by author, and as I outgrew one library, I added more in other rooms so each room now has categories (fiction is in the bedroom, business, fitness and health, and so on).

    I also had to work hard on the idea of not being able to hold, smeall, touch, feel, my books. My decision to get a Sony reader came just before my stem cell transplant. I knew I would be in hospital for a couple of weeks, and the decision of which books to take was impossible. So I requested it as a birthday gift.

    What a pleasure!! I still love the original books. If you take me to any mall, I hate shopping so my family always finds me in the book store with a load of books to buy beside me :-).

    What I love about them is:

    – They weigh so little, so it’s easy to hold in bed.
    – With my little book light, if I’m having trouble sleeping, I just turn on my book for a bit and don’t disrupt my husband.
    – I can carry a large variety of books with me, so if I’m in the mood for a different book, no problem.
    – I get most of my books for free. Sony offers many of them for free; Google has all the classics for free; Your local library allows you to borrow online.
    – Sony (and I think Kindle) has all your purchases online. I don’t use wireless to get my books. I download them to my computer, then copy to my reader.
    – Sony (I presume Kindle as well) authorizes more than one device thereby enabling you to share with another person that has the same reader.

    I broke my Sony and because the Sony Store (and my computer) both have all my original purchases stored, I just had to load them onto a new reader. I’m sure you can do the same.

    I have now read books I hadn’t planned to read because of my e-reader. For example, I’m now reading the Tarzan series (just took a break for a couple of months).

    My favorite free book offered by Sony turned out to be “Fireflies in December” by Jennifer Erin Valent. I then bought her second book, Cottonwood Whispers. Thanks to you, I looked them up to ensure I spelled the name right and discovered there is a 3rd book in the series, which I plan to get.

    I think I may have answered you questions. My comments turned out a bit long. I am recovering from a cold and cough picked up on my way down to Florida (not complaining) and today is the first day I had energy to post anything, so I’m like a horse that smells the barn :-).

    Take care.

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  4. I thought I’d like these but I really like books just for being books. Plus if you drop a book in the bath it’s not going to go BANG!

    I know that you mentioned The Art of Dancing in the Rain when Beth lost her Buddy. I just ordered it – I’ll let you know if it was worth the £2.81! ;D

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  5. I’ve never seen the iPod and the e-reader compared – although it makes perfect sense. At its simplest, what the iPod did was compress your music collection into the smallest possible space and make it more portable. The Kindle and its brethren do the same.

    But as any audiophile will tell you, something was lost when music was moved to this format. My ears aren’t that good – yet I do remember the days we debated the merits of the types of needles (and brands) we used on our turntables. So quality isn’t an issue – which is the point of the e-book. It’s about offering the cheapest alternative, in its most compressed format, with the greatest amount of portability.

    I’m not a total Luddite. I grew up in book publishing and still work in the printing industry. I worked in production so I oversaw how things were made from typesetting to the finished product. It’s tough to turn my back on that.

    Only similar experience I could think of was buying a piece of high quality furniture – a four-drawer dresser for instance. Beautiful wood, beautiful finishing, enduring structure. You could get as functional a piece from IKEA – but the product isn’t the same and never will be.

    I’m sure an iPad is in my future. But I’ll never abandon The Book.

    By the way, The Art of Racing in the Rain was one of my most recent favorites and bought multiple copies of it to pass on to friends. it hit home for me – my big dog watched and guarded me thru my cancer treatment, and sat up with me during rough night in recovery. She saw me all the way thru. Then unfortunately, she passed away from her own cancer just shortly after I returned to work. I used a quote from the book for her epitaph.

    Thanks for the effort you put in her – always enjoy your posts, your experiences, and your writing.

    Onward we all go! Best of health to everyone here!

    – Jeff

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