Monday, December 27, 2021

OK, I admit it: Books are heavy

     How was your Christmas? Was Santa good to you? I got something cool. Well, not for Christmas, which we don’t celebrate, being Jews, but for Hanukkah, almost a month ago, which seems part of a different era. The last gasp of pre-Omicron society. A dozen people over to the house for beer and brats, latkes and songs.
     My wife bought me a Kindle, in keeping with her ongoing scheme of pressing upon me electronics I would never buy for myself because I’m morally opposed to them. It started 20 years ago with my first cellphone (remember a world without cellphones? Me neither). Back then, I wondered whether I should keep the present. Now, if I leave the house without my phone, which never happens, I feel like I’ve walked outside without pants.
     A Kindle seemed contrary to my bookish personality. Named in a sly tribute to “Fahrenheit 451” and its book-burning firemen (kidding; some grandiose Jeff Bezos puffery about kindling a reading revolution), Kindles aren’t new, but introduced in 2007. My wife has had one for a few years (a present from me; give the lady what she wants).
     She’s been singing its praises. But I resisted. It would be another device that I would have to master and cart around and keep charged. But two years into COVID, I’ll take any distraction I can get. I gave the nod.
     I decided to start my e-reading adventure with Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence.” It seemed a visit to a more elegant era, when people gathered in rooms.
     This is where the gift aspect was important. Left to my own devices, I’d have given up halfway through the check-a-book-out-of-the-library-and-download process, which at times resembled filing taxes. But it was a gift from my wife.
     And here’s why I’m writing this. If you asked me beforehand to imagine what the benefits of the Kindle might be, I’d talk about forests saved, or carrying an entire library in one sliver of circuitry, that kind of thing. Plus they illuminate; you can read in the dark.
     Nowhere close. The great thing about a Kindle is you can look up words easily. Who knew? None of this closing the book, getting up, padding over to a dictionary, flipping pages.

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  1. Here’s a secret. You don’t have to pad over to the dictionary and flip pages. Just use your omnipresent phone and ask for the definition.
    I still prefer reading an actual newspaper and book but I do have to admit there is a lot to be said for eReaders.
    One problem I encountered however, was when I went to a book fair and found the author of an ebook I read, she couldn’t sign my laptop.

  2. Nu, boychik, so did you have to kindle the Hanukkah lights before or after you got your Kindle? (Credit my shiksa wife for that bit of humor)

    I'm so old that when someone says "Kindle" I still think "Jerry" in Jerry Kindall (1935-2017). The Minnesota native played for the Cubs, Indians, and Twins from 1956 to 1965. Good glove man, but a lousy hitter (his lifetime average of .213 is the lowest for anybody with at least 2,000 MLB at-bats since 1920).

    Kindall became a highly successful head coach (860 wins) during his quarter-century with the University of Arizona baseball team, and then spent another two decades in radio, as a broadcaster.

    Kindall was also a devout Christian. The FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes eventually named an award after Kindall, presented each year to the player who best represents Jesus Christ both on and off the field. (Was J.C. also a great-field, no-hit second baseman whose glove kept him in the lineup?) How's this for irony? He died of a stroke--on Christmas Eve.

    I still remember him in his heyday (1960-61), as an infielder with the Cubs. But I never knew until recently that it was Jerry Kindall, and not Ernie Banks, who originated the phrase “the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field”...

  3. I don’t have a Kindle anymore, since getting an iPad years ago. You can read all the same books, plus the illustrations are in color! But another great benefit of either, for me at least, is being able to run across a character’s name and then easily search to remind my muddled brain who that is.

    I will say the Kindle is lighter and easier to read outside. And you don’t have all your notifications about texts and such to distract you. It’s a “purer” reading experience.

  4. There is one other plus for the Kindle that doesn't yet apply in your case, Neil. For those of us whose eyesight is not what it once was is the simple adjustment of text size. As much as I love real books, sometimes the print is just too small to read comfortably anymore.

  5. I LOVE my kindle. In addition to the fact that you can look words up right there there is the fact that you can adjust the font size. Moreover, on Amazon, you can download for free the first few chapters of any book. I don't do much library borrowing so that's a big plus. I am fortunate enough to be able to "pay for content" and I do buying many books, but I don't want to do so completely blindly with books. FYI I also subscribe to 10 different newspapers/newsletters, including mostly because of you the Sun-Times.

  6. The most useful kindle feature for me is the search function. You can find a word, phrase, name, etc., and use it to find a point the author made that you can't quite remember. Also, kindle lets you make notes and save them. I actually read kindle books on my laptop as I usually have it with me. It's a much bigger screen.


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