Thursday, May 26, 2011
What (and how) are you reading?
Currently I have three books rattling around in my head:
Hard copy (and yes, hard cover) next to my bed: The Seance by John Harwood. I cannot sleep at night without reading a real, hold-in-your-hands book before turning out the light. I love real books. I love the smell of them. I love the smell of bookstores, especially ones that aren't overpowered by the smell of coffee from the ubiquitous Starbucks placed center store. I like the feel of a book in my hands. I like the satisfaction of placing a book, enjoyed and completed, in my bookshelves. I like turning the pages and sticking a bookmark in to hold my place as my eyelids start to droop. It will be a sad old world if lovely hard cover volumes disappear.
The Map that Changed the World by Simon Winchester, read by Simon Winchester. Audiobooks are the books of choice for my commute to and from work. My hands are free to hang on during a subway ride and keep the story going as I walk from the station to my destination. A big upside to audiobooks is that many public libraries allow free mp3 downloads.
What makes or breaks an audiobook is the narrator/reader. Author Simon Winchester, for example, is a wonderful narrator. An easy style, not stilted. And, of course, he knows the book, since he wrote it. Last year I listened to The Help, rather than reading it. The audiobook used three different readers for the three main characters, which made keeping the characters straight pretty easy. But a lousy narrator isn't even worth download time. That's the real caution of an audiobook.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I know, I know. I completely rejected the idea of electronic readers when they first came out. My sensibilities were all a-snit. However, the more I travel, and the more stuff I have to cram into a bag that fits into the overhead compartment - well, the thing that usually has to be left at home on the bed is my book. And I can't sleep without reading before bedtime. And, no, a magazine won't do. Watching folks whip out the slim little Kindle reader in an airport, on the plane, in the subway, at a restaurant began to make me downright envious. Just think! I could carry lots and lots of books with me in this lightweight little package. I could download new books instantly! A word got you stumped? Just click, and it's defined. I had to have one of these little babies.
Thankfully, Daughter and Son-in-Law gave me a Kindle for my birthday. What a joyous thing it is! I love that it does one thing very, very well. It doesn't try to be a laptop or smartphone or tablet. Nope. It perfectly delivers the world of print to a format I can easily slip into my purse, hold in one hand, and instantly turn pages. Seamless reading. In the bright sun. Easy on the eyes. Perfect, I tell you. And while it won't replace my hard copy bedtime reading at home, it is now my on-the-go reading. I'm on the go a lot, by the way.
So what - and how - are you reading? And what on earth would Herr Gutenberg make of all this?