When I was a kid, I was a voracious reader. I also grew up in a house that didn’t have a lot of books, where the only adults were functionally illiterate, and where going to the library was just one more pipe dream. Books were more than just pleasure or luxury for me though. They were an escape from the oftentimes painful life I led as a child to a very callous, abusive, and neglectful mother.
I filled out the 2 books a month card from the inside of one of my aunt’s Harlequin novels when I was six and secreted the books that arrived in my bedroom to read over and over again. Though who would send out books to a handwritten card filled out by a six year old… When I was a preteen, I found the library’s mail service and read every book in their catalog in a summer. When I was 12, I ran away from home to go to church and then to the library — I know, I was a real rebel — and my grandfather started taking me to both on a regular basis. It wasn’t long before I’d read everything my small town library had to offer but the encyclopedias. By the time I was 18 and living with my grandparents (whom I now call Mom and Dad), I owned more than 2,000 books, most bought at Friends of the Library sale for $1/bag. You could say that books are kind of important to me, but unlike a lot of people I know who accummulate books, I’m not very sentimental about them. If I were, I’d need a bigger house. My book-stash gets weeded through on a regular basis and donated to nursing homes, hospitals, friends, and charities like Books for Africa.
Recently my book habit has slowed down a lot. With the hectic and crazy schedule I’d been keeping for the last decade and then my health issues, I was lucky to get in a dozen new books a year (though rereading the older titles is one of my favorite ways to pass a lazy afternoon). Still, I kind of shied away from the ebook experience for a long time. My husband, who reads as many books a year as I do in a good couple of weeks, bought twice as many ebooks as I did in the last three years.
But then my sister was hospitalized and dying. I downloaded six books in 10 days and read several dozen sample chapters for more. Books became my escape again. I read while sitting in the ICU waiting room. I read at her bedside. I read when I was too tired to sleep in the hotel I rented a room at, mostly to get Mom to sleep. Reading on the iPhone was my solace, but it was also painful. My eyes gave out before my appetite for books did.
I’ve been contemplating getting an eReader ever since. Last month my husband and his parents went together to surprise me with a new Kindle. I have to say, I loved reading on it. When my first unit went dead, Amazon was kind enough to replace my week old Kindle free of charge, shipped on their dime, when Wal-mart refused to exchange it.
After several weeks of steady use, I have to say that it was one of the best gifts I’ve gotten. Not only do I have an eye-friendly way of reading that lets me shove my entire library into my purse, but I also have a writing tool that I’ve found to be invaluable already.
Writing on the Kindle? What is this strange idea?
I don’t draft new stuff on the Kindle, or at least I haven’t yet. I imagine that would be a long and painful process. That said, line revisions and scene tweaks were easy, quick, and wonderfully efficient. Much better than printing and 3-ring binding my novel and having to lug that around with a bag full of colored pens, highlighters and such. I do major revisions on my netbook at home, turn the Word files into Kindle documents and load them directly from my netbook, then do line edits and the final read through on the Kindle when I’m out and about or when I just want to sit on the deck and the glare is too bad on the EeePC.
I’m still experimenting with the Kindle as a writing tool, but I have to say that so far, I’m loving it.