Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reader Reader, Bookend Eater

The Spouse gave me a Kindle for Christmas.

I was hesitant to jump on the e-reader book-mobile, because, well, I like books.  I like to feel books.  And I love the smell.  I love the smell of one freshly cracked, with its crisp ink and hint of glue.  I like old books too, the ones that smell of stale dust and even the ones infused with the odor of living – smoke, garlic, napalm, or cheep perfume.  I like the paper for it's shape and color.  I like books with straight 'n even pages, and those whose pages are frayed and skewed.  And I feel history and sentiment when I thumb through a book where time has framed each page the color of tea.

The feel, the smell, the look – it's all about the reading experience.

We started talking about this e-reader thing a while ago, Spouse and me, when I was moping about the house with nothing to read, and wanted to download something.  We have an iPad or two, and that works, I guess. But I'm not a big fan of reading a book through the glare of gorilla glass.  There's also the battery situation.  I don't want to make sure my book is plugged in and charged.

So Amazon has this Kindle Paperwhite.  It's black and whiteish, works in broad daylight, has essentially no glare, and get this – the battery lasts for weeks.  I mentioned that I might want one so Spouse gave me one and I love it.  It's terrific – downloads in a flash, fits in the purse, and has highlighting, note, vocab and wiki features.  I've read it for hours and haven't plugged it in for two weeks.  The only thing it lacks is odor.  I can probably help with that.

Since Christmas, I've read a few.  Here's a brief report:

Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson

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A great read.  While the subject, Steve Jobs, is fascinating enough for eight books, Isaacson does a tremendous job of not getting in the way.  By this I mean that you can get lost in the Jobs' story.  You forget about who's writing it, even though there's plenty of narrative.  Isaacson's Albert Einstein biography was also very good.  He has a way of explaining complicated and technical subjects to dopey folks like me without dumbing it down or over-simplifying.  Steve Jobs' life, exploits, and fumbles are organized and presented well.  This book is a great reminder that some of those who appear to have it all really don't, and that weaknesses often produce our grandest feats.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

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This is the story of a dog and his race-car driving owner, one who excels at racing in the rain.  A heartfelt and bittersweet story, it's written by the dog and solely from the dog's point of view.  I will never look at my dog the same.  I kind of want to go to a race now too.

Slaughterhouse Five
by Kurt Vonnegut

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This is my first Vonnegut experience.  I am now a fan.  Amazon Prime has this reader exchange thing, where you can check out two books a month.  This was on the list of available books so I gave it a stab.  War isn't pretty.  And war hero stories aren't either.  This wasn't a war hero story.  This was a mostly fictional tale, about an unlikely underdog survivor of the Dresden air strike of World War II, who had a time travel/alien abduction opportunity along the way.  Vonnegut, himself, is a Dresden survivor and interjects a few paragraphs about where he was at various points along the story.  The author presents a  "so it goes" each time a death is referenced, and introduces the idea that death is not final –  it's just the body moving on to another dimension.  So it goes.

Daring Greatly
by Brene Brown

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This is the one I'm reading right now.  Brown is a self-help harpy who stresses the need to give up on external (and internal) pressures to be this or that.  She talks a lot about shame, and how we all have it to one degree or another.  We have shame, mostly, for not being or doing enough.  This one, I tell you, has really hit me hard.  It's like I have looked in the mirror for the first time.  I can't put it down.  She also stresses that we need to put ourselves in Teddy Roosevelt's "Arena," (see below.)  We need to stretch, we need to get out and get our asses kicked, and we need to make sure that we stop listening to people who refuse to subject themselves to that ass-kicking arena.  Dare to be great.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. "  ~ Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910

What are you reading?  Do tell.  I'll need a new book soon...


Tonya said...

So glad you're posting again (I'm a longtime lurker)! I'm reading Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (who wrote Seabiscuit). Those boys sure went through hell. Also recently read Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin. It was loverly. The movie comes out next month. I'm not sure how they'll pull some of it off but I can't wait to see it.

rabidrunner said...

Tonya, it's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Thanks for the reader-input. I read "Winter's Tale" a year or two ago and quite liked it. I liked the historical NY setting and geeky time-travel addition. I'm a sucker for time-travel.

I had no idea there was a movie in the works and agree with your "not sure how they'll pull some of it off" consent. That's a mighty big book to put in two hours. They should do a TV show instead and release it with installments. Maybe there aren't enough cliffhangers to do that...? Anyway. Thanks for watching! Come again!

rabidrunner said...

I just read the IMDB paragraph on the movie and they are calling it reincarnation. Do I have the whole book wrong?! I believe I prolly do... Doh.

Winder said...

Have you read "The Book Thief" In the middle of it right now and loving it.

I am also extremely confused by how the movie will work for Winter's Tale

Tonya said...

Not sure it's technically reincarnation if the characters "return" as the exact same people? I call it time travel--Peter Lake just slipped into a void for 100 years. The rest of 'em were alive all along.

It comes out Feb. 14 but will have to wait until after the Olympics as I am a dedicated sucker for them.