I have been toying with the idea of getting a Kindle for a while now. I’m not the type to rush out and get the newest thing straight away, I usually wait until half the world and my 60 year old mum has tried it out first. But my lovely husband got me a Kindle for Christmas last year and I am quite enamoured. I get through books pretty quickly…with a 40 minute commute to work both ways I read every day. To be honest I also read while blow drying my hair, brushing my teeth, cooking dinner and, if the book is particularly good, while walking along the street.
I feel the protagonist of The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield and I have similar attitudes towards reading. Like her, “I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy.”
When I was at school I had the good fortune to pass a library on my way home but unfortunately I live too far away from one to get my fix. Charity shops have been my favourite place to stock up, especially the Oxfam books on Marylebone High Street. That shop is a pleasure to wander around and I never leave without two or three novels…each costing me a mere two pounds or so each. My last haul was Kate Mosse’s The Winter Ghosts, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and other stories and Douglas Coupland’s Girlfriend in a Coma. My friend Nick says that he doesn’t like looking for books in charity shops because he can’t find the book he’s looking for, but I like it for that very reason. I find books that jump out because of a long ago recommendation, things I would never thing to search for on Amazon or just something I haven’t got around to reading.
So I approached the Kindle with some caution, until Tim told me that some of the classics are free. Free! Not one to resist a bargain or a freebie, I jumped to the task with gusto. Though there are ebooks (that you have to pay for) that tell you how to find free books it’s not a hard task at all. All the obvious ones – Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare – have a fair few and I was pleasantly surprised to find a Japanese classic Botchan and Les Miserables (which would be pretty unwieldy on the tube) free of charge. The best way to find free books is to go to the amazon.com Kindle store, type in a likely author and then sort the books from least to most expensive.
Apart from the freeness of the free books, the Kindle certainly has other charms. There’s no need to hook it up to a computer to download because it has in built wireless, and books arrive shiny, new and waiting to be delved into within a minute or two. It’s about the size of a small paperback, but just a centimetre or so thick and weighs 241 grams. The screen does look remarkably like paper to avoid those computer screen headaches. At the moment the book selection isn’t as wide as I would like but I’m sure it will expand with time.
So, I doubt Oxfam books has seen the last of me, but I have a feeling that the Kindle will become my constant tube companion.