As I have told my friends so many times that they insisted on buying me one, I am not really an e-reader kind of person.
I like the feel and smell of books. I like turning pages. I like having books stacked around me where I can rummage through them to find my favorite bits.
But a trip to the emergency room a few months ago drove home the point with chilling clarity. I was trapped for hours with nothing to read.
At the time, I blamed Jonathan Franzen, whose doorstop of a novel didn't travel well.
I should have been carrying a backup book or at least a New Yorker, but I got the call and ran out of the house without thinking. It was stupid and careless and I paid the price.
Northwestern may be a first-rate medical institution, but it is not even a third-rate library. Golf magazine? Please.
It occurred to me then that an e-reader could have spared me a lot of suffering.
Upon seeing this tiny crack in my e-resistance, my friends moved in and bought me a Kindle. I think they knew it could never really be cool until I started using one. I read The Imperfectionists and some Oscar Wilde. I downloaded some free classics. I had a short and unsatisfying fling with Ian Fleming.
Then I hit an e-wall. The next couple of books on my list were short story and humor collections. I wanted them on the shelf, because the only way to read this type of book is to roam carelessly through the pages, waiting for the moment you lock eyes with a passage or a title and Susan Orlean makes you spill your wine.
In a few days I will be leaving town for a one-night stand with Tom Stoppard and a few days of drinking and dining with people for whom, against all odds, ink stains are still an occupational hazard. Someday they will tell their grandchildren about newspapers, magazines and books that operated with no power source whatsoever.
Still, it is the perfect opportunity to get to know my Kindle a little better.
But the Stoppard collection I want isn't there, so I end up buying the hefty paperback. My traveling BFF, a sleek-packing, well-traveled, almost New Yorker who mocks my inability to pack lightly or get to my hotel using local transportation, will disapprove.
"Where is the Kindle we bought you?" she will say accusingly. Then she will demand to see my subway and bus receipts.
The receipts, I believe, can be easily scavenged. But I can't figure out what to put on the Kindle. Is it a backup? Do I pay to load e-copies of the actual books I've already started? Convenient but expensive. So how do I separate my reading list into actual books and books that will exist only on screen? Does this make me seem old and techno-resistant? Who do you think even buys books? Duh.
As always, if the last book you loved had the words "Eat" or "Pray" in the title, your recommendations will be disqualified. This is not to say that my taste in books is any better than yours - just different. In a good way.
Hah. I am kidding, of course. But seriously, send me some titles. This thing holds millions or something like that.
From the SK takes Manhattan archives: Milkmaids and Man Candy in Manhattan
Oh, how I love these questions... Are you a genre reader of any kind? I am.
Fantasy title - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Mystery Title - The Spellman Files, Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans, and The Spellmans Strike Again all by Lisa Lutz
Non-Fiction (you decide if it's creative or not) - Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Posted by: Linda | March 11, 2011 at 09:48 AM
Too bad you didn't get any ereader but the Kindle. You could download books free from the library. Kindle is the only format that doesn't support downloading from the Columbus library. WTF?
I would recommend the latest Joyce Maynard, but you would hate it, if only because of her smug reputation as a NY Times columnist before she tumbled from grace. Maybe Rick Bragg has written something recently. I know, I'll send you a copy of my latest novel.
Posted by: Paulita | March 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM
Yeah, SK, your friends really fell down on the job buying you a Kindle. You think they'd at least have researched all the local Chicago suburb library policies before making that kind of purchase. Because we all know how much you like a bargain.
Posted by: Executive Suburbanite | March 11, 2011 at 12:41 PM
It's true. People are always saying that about me. If there is a shoe sale anywhere within 10 blocks of my hotel, so help me god, I will find it.
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | March 11, 2011 at 02:27 PM
You have a Kindle? I want a Kindle now. You and I can re-Kindle our passion - for reading.
Posted by: Audubon Ron | March 11, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Kindles make for expensive coasters.
Posted by: elizalawyerbitch | March 11, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Oh, come on. There is probably one library system for all of Chicago, just like in Columbus. Why would you buy something that isn't compatible with other platforms? And I'm not talking trains here. Not like she would have downloaded books from the library anyway when she could pay good money for them.
Posted by: Paulita | March 11, 2011 at 08:20 PM
So let me get this straight, the person who has read more books than all of us put together, can't think of a good book or books to put on her Kindle without assistance? And hey, I think the purchase was well researched. Like the SK would read a free book if there were one left in the world to buy!
Posted by: nthnglsts | March 11, 2011 at 08:20 PM
P.S. Go check your Kindle...
Posted by: nthnglsts | March 11, 2011 at 08:29 PM
I'm give you 10 points for The Subway Chronicles because it has Calvin Trillin in it. Reserving judgment on Unprotected Texts.
Also, if Amazon starts sending me bible-related recommendations I am going to inquire about Disney time-share opportunities in your name.
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | March 12, 2011 at 09:46 AM
Should be one more...check again. The best part of giving you a Kindle book is I'm pretty sure you don't really know how to delete it. Also, here is where I came up with Unprotected Texts, which sounds like a title you should have come up with:
Posted by: nthnglsts | March 12, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Got them. Linda's list is also promising. Can't go wrong with any list that includes Malcolm Gladwell, Mary Roach and William Goldman. I might check out the mysteries, which, like the library, is a place I almost never go.
If I do find an easy library-to-Kindle hookup, you will want to adjust your investment portfolios accordingly...
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | March 13, 2011 at 08:06 AM
For non-fiction, The Professor and the Madman is an interesting read (all thinky about the making of the OED, but also a murder mystery). There's also an interesting book on the first hippo to travel around Europe, called Clara, I think. And Ghost Maps, about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London is fascinating. For fiction, I just finished and really liked Mistress of Nothing, and I am in the middle of Girl in a Blue Dress (based loosely on the life of Catherine Dickens), which so far is quite good.
Posted by: MommyTime | March 13, 2011 at 06:08 PM
I got a Nook for Christmas and love it. I swear it's the only thing that made a recent stint on jury duty tolerable.
I agree, Devil in the White City was great. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is the best thing I've read in a long, long time. I couldn't put it down or stop reading passages aloud to anyone who would listen. Also, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a must if you've ever had a deep connection with a family dog.
An e-reader doesn't have the same feel or smell as books, but I love it for its portability and for being backlit so I can read in bed without a light.
Posted by: Seriously Jess | March 15, 2011 at 02:57 AM