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I Love My Kindle

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It’s about 1°C and I’m taking the metro to meet friends for lunch. As I walk through Palais Royal, I see that one of our regular pavement artists has begun work. I’m cold just looking at him. On the metro reading, I open up Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” which I’m reading again. The French lady next to me asks if I’m happy with my Kindle. “Oh, yes, I love it!” “My husband bought me one for Christmas but it hasn’t arrived yet”, she says. I then proceed to tell her about my favourite features: you can increase or decrease the size of the characters which is wonderful when your sight diminishes and you can download an extract of a book before you buy it.

Pavement artist on Place du Palais Royal at 1°C.
Pavement artist on Place du Palais Royal at 1°C.

As I mentioned in a previous post about Kindles, I’m one of those people who can’t survive without reading. I hear many book lovers say they have to have the physical object but I must confess that that I’ve now been reading on my Kindle non-stop for nearly 10 months and I don’t miss paper books one little bit! My preferred place to read is in bed and some paperbacks are just too big to read comfortably.

If you’re eating breakfast alone, you can prop your Kindle up in front of you. It fits easily into your handbag when you take the metro. If you’re going on holidays, you don’t have to find room for several heavy books and with the 3G version, you can download a new book anywhere! When you’ve finished one book by an author, you can then proceed to read all their other works. I’ve nearly finished the complete collection of Jane Austen, which I’ve never been able to do before.

Pavement artist nearly finished three hours later
Pavement artist nearly finished three hours later

It’s a great space saver of course and extremely environment-friendly. I unfortunately don’t have the back-lit version but I now have a little light that I can clip on so I can read when Relationnel’s asleep – a big boon for an insomniac like me.

Some people use their iPads to read, but I find it’s too heavy and the light isn’t comfortable for reading. The Kindle is just perfect. Another thing is that you don’t have to keep track of a bookmark. It always opens at the right place. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s a bit tricky to flip back to check on something you’ve already read though maybe there is a trick to it that I don’t know.

Kindle books are much cheaper than paper ones and you can get most classics free. I was amused to see that the only novel by Austen that is not free is “Sense and Sensibility” but it costs less than a euro. I love it when someone talks about a book and I can immediately download the extract and see if I like it. There is also a “share” function that I haven’t explored yet.

So with all these wonderful possibilities, what have I been reading apart from Jane Austen that I can recommend? I’ll let you check them out on Amazon as book reviews are not really my thing.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, which I really enjoyed, though it’s pretty tough. It tells the story of a returned soldier in Australia who went to live in a lighthouse. I chose this book after reading an excellent review on a blog called Word by Word.

The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt who is one of my favourite writers and did not disappoint me. Its about a poor young graduate student struggling to find an identity.

A Month in the Country by J. Carr which combines the return of a WWI veteran with mediaeval church restoration.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, an Indian writer living in the US. It’s a collection of short stories whose main theme is the clashes of culture.

The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt, whose main character is a mature woman whose husband decides he needs a « pause » in their marriage.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville who follows the lives of a family of convicts and first settlers in Australia and there relationship with the aborigines.

Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville, the sequel to the previous book.

Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton, my favourite in 2012: the autobiography of a Hungarian woman who married two famous men, the ABC anchor Peter Jennings and the diplomat Richard Holbrooke.

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult, which is a bit strange but readable nevertheless. It explores a man’s relationship with wolves and how it affects his family.

Do you have any books to share?

I’ve Joined the Kindle Community!

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I’ve always been a ferocious reader. I had the great fortune to have a father who let me read absolutely anything I wanted from both his own library and the town library (he had to sign a paper saying that I could take books from the adult section when I was still a child) and who encouraged me to use a dictionary. I’d be lying in bed reading at night and call out hopefully “Dad, what does ‘testimony’ mean” and he’d inevitably reply, “Look it up in the dictionary”. So I’d take my trusty Pocket Oxford from the bedhead behind me and look it up.

As a result, I grew up knowing the real meaning of words and how they are used.  And I love words. I loved the Latin at church and I adored learning French at school. And my love of reading has never left me. I remember the very first book I ever read – an abridged version of Peter Pan. I think it probably shaped my whole life. I was fanatical about the Pollyanna series and read and reread them constantly. There was also Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, What Katy Did and The Bobbsey Twins, The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. But I soon left them behind for Gone with the Wind and Anna Karenine.

Dad had the complete collection of Maupassant’s short stories and novels (in English of course) which I devoured. How much I really understood I don’t know, but it introduced me to the fascinating world of France. My love of literature and French led me to an Arts degree with French honours despite my mathematical leanings and I was overjoyed when I came to France to discover that such a thing as a technical translator existed. I went on to get a masters in translation at ESIT in Paris and have been a freelance technical and legal translator ever since. What a wonderful excuse to have a bookshelf full of dictionaries of every kind!

One of my big problems has always been to find enough books to read particularly on a reduced budget when my children were small.  Libraries obviously solved the problem for French books. I also made the wonderful discovery that my beloved Russian novelists translate much better into French than into English. Fortunately I found a library nearby which had a good collection of English novels so I reread all the classics. My taste in reading is very eclectic and I’ve always loved rooting around in other people’s libraries to see what I can find. I’ll read anything that someone recommends.

When I began teaching translation at ESIT, I started swapping books with my students. With the coming of Internet, especially sites like the Book Directory and Amazon where you can get the latest novels (well practically) without having to pay postage, my access to books changed dramatically. I can talk to my aunt in Australia about what she’s reading, order her suggestions off the Net and receive them within a couple of days! When we moved into Paris, I found a wonderful source of second-hand English books at Book-Off on rue Saint Augustin. AT 2 or 3 euros a time, I can fill my carry bag. They also buy the books back again (at 20 centimes!) thus eliminating the problem of where to put all these books once I’ve read them.

But there I was the other night, wandering aimlessly around, sifting through my bookcase and wondering what on earth I could find to read. I was sure I had a whole stack of unread books on a shelf somewhere. Sadly, that was not the case. I finally found Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day which I had totally forgotten and am thoroughly enjoying.

But now, thanks to Leonardo, I have a Kindle with international 3G so will never be short of reading material EVER AGAIN – provided I remember to charge it of course!

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