I’ve fallen back in love with my Kindle this week. It’s nice to be back on good terms, Mr Kindle and me, because our relationship has been somewhat strained throughout our short time together. I shouldn’t really blame him – it’s baggage from my strained relationship with books that I’ve brought along to our new partnership. The truth is I utterly adore Mr Kindle and can’t for a minute imagine going back to olden days of life without him. See, I’m not as sentimental as many are about real books with real pages that you can turn. Books are heavy and odd-shaped, they take up space, and they get wet, ripped and lost. I like my reading material practical, compact and full of hundreds of choices.
No, it’s not Mr Kindle himself who I have a strained relationship with. It’s the fact that I’m either completely and utterly obsessed with a book or I’m suffering through the self-enforced pain of trying to read something that I think will be good for me but it clearly isn’t because I’m actually daydreaming and not reading or taking in any of the words at all.
At the start of Mr Kindle and my recent fling I was battling through the first stages of James Joyce’s Ulysses. I thought that book would be good for me – it’s one of those classics that intelligent people talk about, it was famously banned, which I’d like to know more about, and I’d like to have an opinion on it. But I just couldn’t get started.
Mr Kindle and I had a break for a while – for a few months I had a few affairs with magazines – but I decided our relationship was worth something and I wanted to invest again.
Last time we were passionately involved was when I got completely totally sucked into Portia de Rossi’s book, Unbearable Lightness, which was an experience to say the least. I do not recommend anyone with eating issues to read it because she transports you inside her mind and her illogical thoughts are almost dangerous. I was obsessed. I couldn’t put it down. I would get home from an eight-hour day sitting in front of a screen reading and writing, to lie straight on the bed for three hours totally absorbed until I finally finished the book. It wasn’t healthy. And I said to Mr Kindle, “No. this will not continue.”
This week I’ve finally fallen back into addiction with Mr Kindle through Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. I’ve read one of his other books before, Norweigan Wood, and really enjoyed it, despite its lonely and depressing narrative that Murakami’s work is famous for. When I opened up South of the Border, West of the Sun and read the first page this week, I was instantly transported back to Murakami’s Japan, where everything is a kind of wistful, melancholic grey in my head. There’s something about Murakami’s characters, introspective, unhappy human beings, that I really feel drawn to. Actually, in the book I’m reading at the moment, the main character, Hajime, talks about being drawn towards certain people by some innate force that is not external beauty – magnetism – he calls it – and I kind of get what he’s saying.
The other thing that Murakami touches on in this book is an attitude to reading which made me think about another one of my issues I’ve had with my love-hate relationship with books.
“I guess I’m afraid of being disappointed. Reading trashy novels makes me feel I’m wasting time. It wasn’t always that way. I used to have lots of time, so even though I knew they were junk, I still felt something good would come from reading them. Now it’s different,” Hajime says.
I went through a stage of not being able to find any good novels that could suck me in; around the end of high school when I was too busy studying every waking moment (when I wasn’t partying) so really didn’t have time or inclination for books anyway. I started off a habit in which I only wanted to read non-fiction books that would teach me something. Non-fiction with a narrative became my style – books like A.J Jacob’s The Know-It-All and Danny Wallace’s Yes Man (which is basically a novel anyway, just one that supposedly happened in real life), as well as various serious and dry books.
But of course, fiction can often tell truth and delve inside the world better than non-fiction can – I know that now. I still try not to waste my time with “trashy novels” but good books can be hard to find. Still, my tendency to get unhealthily sucked into a good read makes me want to choose my targets very wisely.
I’ve downloaded a stack of free classics on Mr Kindle that I love the thought of reading, but am not sure how I will go in the actual process. Books are such a subjective topic and with the internet and changes in the publishing industry, there are more options than ever. This is a great thing, especially for picky people like me, but it’s also quite confusing to decide where to begin.
What have you been reading lately?