Book love

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.”

So I hung out with Frankie and Marie Claire and Green Lifestyle for a little bit until the emotions subsided.

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?

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6 responses

  1. You sure have a large choice of books….imagine all of those on a bookshelf…to be able to cart them with you and to make a choice dependant on your mood is a great idea! I predict you will have a long successful relationship with ‘Mr Kindle’…the occasional fling with a magazine will surely not be an issue!
    I have a struggle reading my bookclub book each month but I do my best every time; not uncommonly I find myself speed reading on the first Wednesday of the month, last months book, ‘An Orphan’s Escape’,was a worthwhile read and very topical at the moment with todays apology to ‘stolen children/parents’. We probably had one of our best ever discussions at bookclub…I’m so pleased I finished it:-)
    Apart from the occasional book I enjoy to read food/lifestyle magazines as they require a shorter concentration span and inspire me…..oh and I look forward to reading GC every 3 months:-)

  2. In answer to your question, I have recently been reading the second book in the a song of ice and fire saga, the woman in black and Justin cronin’s trilogy. All on the kindle.
    But in between all of these over the summer I read a book of short ghost stories. I found it a great read to take to the beach.
    Whilst I love the kindle, I still see a place for actual books. I would never take my kindle to the beach, or anywhere else it might get wet or damaged. A real book is way less valuable and therefore if you don’t mind sticking to just the one book, perhaps a better alternative.

    Rudiger Bernhardtenstahl

  3. It’s a marvel to me that you ever have time to read- you never seem to stop!
    But to answer your question, i have just read ‘ wife up north’ . It’s a real life story about a career woman from London who moves to the north of England to live the dream life her husband wants. She has three kids and no job and is isolated in the rural community. The deal was that they would try it for two years then decide if it was to be a permanent way of life. I won’t tell you the result as that would spoil the surprise!

    I have also just read jane juska ‘ a round healed woman’. I laughed our loud with this one. It’s really funny but probably for the older woman only. It’s the tale of how she advertised for a man or men to have a relationship with before she was 70 – and what happened. The sequel to it was just as funny, ‘ an unattached woman’ . I would recommend it to kerry !

    • The “Wife Up North” sounds like it could be interesting – but perhaps written for those who understand the nuances in the English north-south divide? Dan lent me a book about Northerners and Southerners once and there was a lot I didn’t really understand – but it was an interesting insight into the culture.

      My secret to having time to read is buses and trains!

  4. My kindle was an absolute champion during the times I used it to read all of the Song of Ice and Fire books. It went with me everywhere and it still turned on after I had angrily turned it off when something I didn’t like happened.
    I still can’t be controlled in a book shop (the reason I got a kindle is because I’ve run out of shelf space) and I keep buying real books -currently reading Tina Fey’s autobiography.

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