Mots Justes took an unexpected hiatus this week when a family matter required a last-minute trip home. But the unplanned travel gave me a chance to try out my Kindle for the first time.
My parents had given me the electronic reading device for my graduation—how appropriate for a freshly diplomaed Master of Professional Writing! To be honest, though, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I hadn’t asked for it, and before receiving it, I hadn’t thought about wanting one.
I did familiarize myself with the slick technology that first weekend by reading through the User’s Guide, and given it was the second Kindle purchased on my father’s credit card, it came loaded with the titles he and Mom had already purchased, The Soloist and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle among them. (While Mom calls her Kindle “the gift that keeps on giving,” my father explained, carefully and repeatedly, how to change the settings on mine so that future purchases would be made on my credit card on not his.)
But I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate my new ereader into my reading regimen. You see, in an effort to read widely and deeply, I have a complex schedule that includes fiction and nonfiction, contemporary and classic, short and long literature. (I won’t go into detail here to spare me the embarrassment of revealing just how nerdily obsessive compulsive I am—just know that categories and subcategories are involved.) And I have purchased copies of the next several books I plan to read.
Furthermore, I like to see what I’ve read:
And what I will be reading:
It gives me a sense of accomplishment and anticipation to see these titles piled in my bookcase, organized in the order that I read or will read them.
However, I’m currently reading the third volume in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, an eight hundred-page tome that severely compromises my ability to travel as light as possible in this age of checked-bag fees. So I decided to see if I could download a copy onto my Kindle.
Sure enough, I was able to find the text for ninety-nine cents. Kindle tricked me, though—I selected the digital version next to a picture that matched the cover of my volume. Unfortunately, I’m reading a revision of a translation, and the version I got was only the original translation. But you know what? Close enough. Now, if only you could get digital downloads of every hard- or paperback book you purchased at a reasonable price, you could enjoy both the aesthetics of print and the convenience of digital.
Meanwhile, at Attica Locke’s reading last week, I purchased two signed copies of Black Water Rising, one for me and one for Father’s Day. (In addition to giving me a reason to break out my Kindle, my trip home also offered the rare opportunity to celebrate an early Father’s Day with Dad live and in-person, so I’m not spoiling the surprise here.) Although there have been some reports of authors being asked to sign Kindles, ereaders have so far not satisfactorily brought this tradition into the digital age.
Aside from fiddling around with the User’s Guide, I haven’t had a chance to utilize all the Kindle’s features, but so far I’m a big fan of the built-in dictionary: