Posts Tagged ‘Kindle’

When I began blogging just over two year ago, one of the first posts I read in my manic search through WordPress blogs asked whether you prefer e-readers or books. There were lots of responses and more keep showing up even months after the original post, mostly in favor of books.  Just today on Facebook, there was a thread about the same thing, with people who like “real” books best the most vehement.  I find myself shaking my head and wondering why the discussion continues.

I’ve been a certified, or possibly certifiable, bibliophile from the time my mom read aloud to us.  I knew where every horse book was at the library branch we used.  I ordered books from Scholastic book club and was shocked to hear that there were not only children, but families at the school where Mom taught for several year who didn’t own a singe book.  I gave some of my precious books to her to give to some of the children.  After all, we didn’t have much money, but we always had books.

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When I went backpacking in Europe for almost a year in the mid-seventies, I had to find English books or magazines wherever possible.  Thankfully people left them at hostels or B&B’s and shared them with fellow English-readers.  Once in awhile I spent some of my precious money on them at the rare bookstore with books in English.  Before I got a library card in the Wyoming town where we go for vacation each year (we really go to the mountains near the town, but the library’s in town), I used to haul two or three bags full of books along in the van to avoid that fate worse than death–running out of reading material.  Even when spending most of the day outside on horseback or hiking, there’s always time in the morning or evening for reading.

So when Bill got me a Kindle some years ago, I was quick to see the advantage.  I could carry literally thousands of books with me wherever I went.  All I had to do was to be sure to also carry the charging cord and, if necessary, an adapter.  How could that be bad???

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Yes, I like to read “real” books.
Yes, I love the smell of books.
Yes, my library card is one of the most valuable cards I own and new taxes for libraries about the only ones I’ll vote for.  Our library system is a treasure; a place where you can find out almost anything you want and learn practically anything, all for no cost.  (Yes, I know taxes are a cost, but you know what I mean.)
Yes, I have boxes and boxes of books in the basement in our rental house and hope one day to have a room to serve as a library.
Yes, I have piles of books in the living room and elsewhere. Isn’t decorating with books always in?

BUT…and that’s a big but…

what’s not to like about being able to read on an e-reader?

No, I don’t like having to buy books and no, I don’t like that e-books are getting to be rather expensive, they can’t be given away, sold to Half Price Books or donated somewhere when I’m finished with them (provided they’re some of the rare books I want to get rid of.)

I like to read. Period. Whatever book or device helps me to do that with the least amount of effort is in my book (so to speak) great. Who says we have to choose? Why should owning an e-reader not be a great thing and owning books a great thing? They both have their place and that place is, as the ad says, anywhere I want to be.

And guess what? E-readers contain books. I know it’s a shock, but it’s true. They have the same words as if you held the literal book in your hands. The pages just turn differently.

Book or e-reader? Bring ’em both on!
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“Libraries are some of my favorite places.  They’re filled with books and information and give you the good feeling that no matter how much you’ve read there’s an endless amount of reading material still ahead of you, so you never have to worry about running out.  It’s a nice certainty in an uncertain world.”

Cliff Hanger, Philip R. Craig

Libraries are one of our nation’s richest treasures, places where anyone can go and learn almost anything.  You may use a computer there if you don’t own one.  You may borrow an e-reader or check out a virtual book.  You may read magazines, find movies, check out music.  No matter the method, you can discover the world.  Library levies are the only tax increases I vote for these days.   I can’t imagine my life without libraries and books and if I had to buy all the books I read, my husband and I would both have to work two jobs each.  The discussion of books vs. Kindles or other e-readers isn’t a discussion that interests me.  I love real books and I love being able to take thousands of books with me in my purse.  I love to read and I love whatever facilitates reading.

That so many children get passed through grade after grade without ever learning to read is one of our greatest shames.

Grocery shopping, reading, and travel used to be private activities.  Now, not just Big Brother knows what you do (and when and where)…or maybe there are more brothers in the family than before.


Do you remember the Cold War or do you think the Cold War is what a grocery store wages against you when you come near the frozen food section?  Do you like to read books that are located in places you’d love to visit? Do you believe all Nazis disappeared after World War II ended?  Do you enjoy espionage books with lots of action, cool gadgets, a bit of romance?  Do you think that if you ever really met James Bond, you’d find him insufferable? (more…)

After driving 2 days and over 1700 miles, I look forward to sitting on the Megabus for the 6 ½ hour ride from Chicago to Cleveland, even though it means I have to be up early to get to the Metra station for the express train into the city.  A man asks if I need help getting my big suitcase onto the train and I’m thankful for the help, since the crush of people could be a problem.  The train is completely full, so I hang back when we arrive, letting the crowd go by before heading for the restroom (try getting a suitcase and carry-on suitcase into a stall!!), then up the escalator to the street.


Before we moved my husband into a rental house, he lived in a one-bedroom apartment in a complex called, aptly enough, Railway Plaza; apt because just outside the complex and close enough to feel a part of it, is Route 59, second-to-the-last stop between Chicago and Aurora on the BNSF line (Burlington Northern Santa Fe). The environs of Chicago have an excellent Metra system…so long as you’re going between wherever you live and the city. However, if you want to go from suburb to suburb and your destination ‘burb isn’t on the same line, forget it. The trains come in from the suburbs like spokes of a wheel, with the city as the center. They don’t go from line to line, creating a spider web formation. You’d have to go into the city on your line, then catch another line out to wherever you were trying to go. And you might have to go to a different downtown station to do so.

After considering the cost of tolls and gas, I decided to try riding the Megabus, Megabuses go all over and they seem to add new routes monthly. In my case, buses leave from downtown Cleveland and arrive just half a block from Union Station, where all the trains, Metra or Amtrak, arrive and depart. That made it easy to descend into the station, catch the Metra, decant myself at Rt. 59 and walk the equivalent of a couple blocks to the apartment. I originally caught a ride to downtown Cleveland with a friend, then when she started working elsewhere, had our younger daughter drop me at the nearest Rapid station (Cleveland’s above-ground Underground), then I waited until the bus arrived, usually about 8 am, got on and relaxed.

My husband was dismissive when I said I was going to take the bus. “You don’t want to take the bus” and “You won’t like it”, he said. I said I’d try it and if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t take it again. But after weighing the cost of the round trip (I think $30 was the most I paid) on the bus, plus the cost of the train ticket (bought a 10-ride pass) vs. that of tolls in Ohio, Indiana and the Chicago area plus gas plus wear-and-tear on the van and it was simple to see which was the better deal financially.

So I Megabussed…and I loved it. Not only was it financially responsible, but since I traveled during the week, the bus was never full and I always had two seats to myself, sometimes at the very front on the top deck with a great view and a place to put my feet up. There was a outlet where I could plug in my laptop if I wanted to use it (and free internet if you could get it, which I virtually never could) and I had over six hours to do whatever I wanted to do. Most of the people slept; I read, either ePub books checked out from the library on my laptop or books from my Kindle. Then once I arrived and got on the Metra, I had another half hour or more to read. How could that be bad??? I also met some interesting people. I also packed a lunch, snacks and took along a thermal mug filled with hot tea, saving me from having to hurry into the plaza restaurants during the Indiana rest stop and queue up with everyone else.

The only downside was that in the winter, the waiting was outside. If the temperature fell below a certain, very cold temperature, there was a waiting bus, although that only happened once. While I never had to deal with snow, I did think I might freeze to death early one morning waiting outside Union Station for a bus back to Cleveland. A whole mob of us waited for some hours because about six blocks from the pickup point, a car rear-ended the bus. The police had to be called and didn’t arrive for 45 minutes, then the report had to be filed, etc., etc. There were some foolish people wearing Crocs with/without socks or dressy boots with nothing warm inside, coats not sufficient for winter, etc. and I know that if I was cold, they were freezing.

Now that my husband’s in our rental house, I’m often bringing things along when I come out or leaving at a time when I can’t catch the bus. But when I put $60 worth of gas in the van or go past another toll booth,(and the told in the Chicago area have double while the ones in Ohio have also increased), I think longingly of the Megabus. Perhaps next time.

Naperville, Illinois has edged one step closer to being the perfect place to live…it now has a Half Price Books store!!

I discovered it yesterday while zooming down I-59, a main-drag highway that sometimes masquerades as a parking lot, headed for veggie heaven at Caputo’s Fresh Market, where I sometimes wish I had a smart phone just to look up what some of those vegetables are and what they’re used for. I glanced to the left, then did the classic double-take. There it was. A Half Price Books sign. A joyous smile plastered itself to my face and on the way back, even though I didn’t have time to look, I made a quick stop, just for the joy of walking through the door, taking a page of coupons from a welcoming book-ista and skimming through the cookbook section. Another visit is on my list for this week.

It’s not that Naperville doesn’t have a bookstore; they have a wonderful, independent one, Anderson’s Bookshop,, a beautiful bookstore offering all sorts of book-related activities and bringing an astounding number of authors to town. There’s also Frugal Muse,, in Darien as well as two places in Madison, Wisconsin, although it’s a bit of a drive. Oh, yes, there’s also a two-story Barnes and Noble downtown, although the Borders is now gone. So there are bookstores; bookstores I patronize, even though I’m trying not to buy so many books. But I’m a bibliophile and despite Kindle’s storage and portability advantages, I still love books and buy them at least occasionally.

Naperville also has a vibrant downtown, a beautiful river walk, an excellent library system, name-brand stores in old, lovely buildings downtown, every store you can think of along I-59, a publishing company, Sourcebooks, Inc.,, (who wonderfully reprinted Georgette Heyers books–bless them!), Binny’s for all the beer/wine/alcohol you’d like at discount prices, some wonderful thrift stores and, as they say, a whole lot more. And now it has a Half Price Books. Just when you think life can’t get any better!

Now what about an artisan bakery? And maybe a vegan/vegetarian restaurant? And my last request (at least for now)….a non-frou-frou teashop. Hats off to TeaLula in Park Ridge,, for perfecting that concept! Oh, that you were here, too!!

For Christmas 2010, my husband got me a Kindle with a black leather cover and a cool little light that pulls out from a corner. (The light’s stopped working, even though I rarely use it, and I have to figure out where the battery is and where to get a new one.) He was probably more excited about it than I was. I’ve been collecting books for years, a habit aided and abetted by 16 years of homeschooling our two daughters, and I’m not a person who only reads a book once, then gets rid of it. I collect books by authors I like although, limited by money and storage space, not all the books by all the authors I like. Some of my books I’ve read at least 10 or 15 times and I plan to read them many more times.

And I’m a bibliophile, a lover of books, actual books as well as what’s in actual books. The library is my favorite place, closely followed by Half Price Books. When the first HPB in the Cleveland area opened in Shaker Heights many years ago, I was the first non-store-related, non-celebrity person in the store and I eventually knew practically all the sales people. They used to give a $5 gift card for every $30 or $35 of children’s books purchased and I sometimes shudder to thing how many of those I got. I loved my teacher’s card, giving me as a homeschooler, an additional 10% off and deeply regretted the day I honestly didn’t renew it.

But back to the Kindle….My first thought was probably “Nice, but I’m not giving up my books”, followed shortly thereafter with the thought that if I bought all the books I read, my husband would have to get a second job and I’d have to go back to work, leaving me little time to read said books acquired at such a cost. The time between those thoughts and now have been a time of figuring out the place of a Kindle in my copious reading life. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

The Kindle (or whatever reading device like it you prefer) is superb for use while traveling and I love to travel. Prior to owning one, when I went on a trip, I packed a bag or two of books or had a library card at the other end of the trip or both. If I went to the post office and expected to wait in line, (and when didn’t I expect to wait?), I took something to read. And a two-week trip to France, such as my husband and I took this fall, would otherwise have created a real problem, especially with the weight and number of suitcases limitation, as well as the difficulty of getting English books overseas in a non-English speaking country. Just the plane trip alone would call for more books than could easily be packed and then what if I didn’t want to leave them somewhere when I was finished (which I wouldn’t want to do)? Traveling occasionally on the Megabus, I’m offered six hours of reading time, although the majority of my fellow travelers use the time to sleep. I can now take thousands of books with me in my purse! How can that be bad?

But what about getting the books to keep on the Kindle? I’d saved a link shared by an online friend to a blog that every day tells me about free or almost free books from Amazon. Most of these are by indie (independent) authors so I never know what the quality will be. I can always grab them, then delete any books I start and don’t like. I’ve got many of them initially but have slowed down as time goes on. There really can’t be that many books that are 4 or 4 1/2 or 5 stars. No books about vampires for me, no erotica, no Amish romances and not most romance novels at all. I have an entire library of business books and mysteries as well as a smattering or more of a variety of other books.

The other books that are free are the classics. Sometimes the formatting of the free versions isn’t very good (and sometimes not on the ones I’ve bought, either) but they’re still free. You could get an amazing education for no more than the cost of the Kindle. You don’t even have to pay for internet access. My basic Kindle has to be somewhere like the library, Caribou Coffee, Starbucks or a similar place with free wi-fi, but all sorts of places have free wi-fi now. For a bit more money, you can have the Kindle with its own free internet access, although you’ll just be in touch with Amazon.

I also collect books by authors I like, want to keep re-reading and want to have available. Some are free, some not, some aren’t even available as e-books, yet. I’ve collected almost all the Donna Leon books, Georgette Heyers Regency romances (which even my husband enjoys and which cause us to often laugh aloud while reading) as well as her mysteries, the first ten or so Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry, lots of the E. Nesbit books, a complete Bible, all the Miss Silver mysteries by Patricia Wentworth, and so on. Periodically, a book from a series is offered free, often the first book, and every day Amazon has a Deal of the Day for $.99. Every month they have 100 books under $2.99 or something along those lines. So I’m gradually building a library that not only doesn’t take up much room but that can be transported around the world with ease. Hard to beat that.

But still, I want to someday live in a house with a library, near a Half Price Books, a library and, hopefully, a bricks and mortar bookstore, to buy books (with free shipping) from Amazon and to give books to my girls, not just let them be one of my five Kindle accounts.