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Why I Love my Kindle…And Why I Hate Myself For It.

 

I was a steadfast, never-changing, can’t-see-the-point, technology-goes-too-far defender of printed books. The ‘Original Book’ if you will. I spent a year on my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship listening to people defending the uses of e-readers, imploring me to consider changing markets and adapting writing to new ways of reading. I refused. The printed book will never be replaced, and I just wasn’t interested. However, when I needed to start editing other people’s books and stories, and my back was starting to break from dragging my laptop everywhere (which I still do, I’ve just added a kindle to the Big Bag of Doom), I decided to give them a chance.

Reasons I love it:

1. Instantaneous gratification

Ooh, I really want that book. Ooh, it’s coming out today! I can’t get to the shop today. My local bookshop doesn’t stock it. Oh, I don’t want to order it and wait for weeks, I want it NOW. Oh, BLAM, look at that! I have it. Shopping for books is one of the greatest pleasures, I may even prefer it to reading books. Seeing a book that grabs me, and instantly getting to read and enjoy it really feels good.

2. Holidays

I have always been a bookworm. When we went away on holiday, as a kid I had to think very carefully about my packing allowance. I always had three books for the plane (just in case) and five more in my case (for a two week holiday). No more using up all my packing space, weighing down my luggage, or having to make awful torn decisions about which book had to be left behind (poor little thing).

3. People can’t see what you’re reading

I think this was voted the number one favourite thing about e-readers. If I’m reading my typical maudlin YA fiction that I’ve read a hundred times before and probably has nothing to offer me, no one can judge. If I did want to read such absolute shite as Fifty Shades of Grey, or Twilight, I could do so without judgement. Which perhaps should be counted as a negative, as shaming people out of buying such things might be a good idea.

4. Supporting indie authors

It’s pretty easy to publish on Amazon for kindle, or even publish an e-book. For a minimal price, you can instantly support an author trying to make it, you can spend fifty pence and show solidarity without even really having to read the thing. It’s one click to make someone really happy. I’ve found some great stuff on twitter, downloaded it straight to my kindle, and it’s a bit like finding some hidden gems, it wasn’t what you were looking for, but you’re glad you took a chance.

 

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And some things I just can’t get over:

 

– People can’t see what you’re reading

As a Londoner, I’m quite averse to unnecessary communications on public transport, BUT sometimes it’s nice to have a chat with another book nerd on a bus. When I worked as a barista, it was really easy to start up a conversation with someone about their book. Reading is an internal thing, but the externalising is the talking about it.

You can’t lend books!

This absolutely drives me mad. I recently read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and it was one of the best books I’d read in ages. And whilst I was recommending it to everyone, could I force it on them by physically handing them a copy? No. So e-books are cheaper, but you have to buy them. Again, internalising reading.

On the beach

There’s something very anti-holiday reading about screens and glare and doohickeys and technology. I like the way my pages get crinkled in the sun, and sand gets between the pages. Getting sand on a kindle-fear.

I worry about getting mugged

No-one’s ever going to stop me for my copy of Harry Potter, but for an e-reader worth a hundred quid? My reading on the tube makes me feel like I’ve got to stow everything away going to the ‘dodgier’ parts of London. And that’s not nice.

The Smell

You know what I mean, don’t you?

 

As always, you can buy my book in physical print and on kindle. Because having the best of both is important, right?

 

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Fifty Shades of What the Fuck:

Why Readers Continue to Astound Me.

Seeing as everyone else has been writing about Fifty Shades of Grey, and you can’t seem to swing a synonym without someone ranting or raving about it, I thought I’d publish my own thoughts here. Deep in the heart of the internet where no-one will ever find them.

The book is awful. We know this. The people who read it, published it and even the ones who liked it, know this. It’s just a fact. The poor dialogue, badly created characters, faux tense love affair, and the ‘love a rich man’ attitude, throwing in references to expensive technology at every opportunity. And then, there are the sex scenes.

So, just in case you’ve been living under a rock (you lucky thing, you) here’s the skinny: Anastasia Steele (yeah, of course you’re called that) accidentally meets young, handsome entrepreneur Christian Grey when covering an interview for her roommate, who’s on the college paper. (Erm…that doesn’t happen. No, really.) He then stalks her a bit, using all his resources, because he’s super rich, and then decides to proposition her. Not in the ‘let’s date and then have sex’ kind of way. More in the ‘I want to beat you with sticks till one of us orgasms or dies’ kind of way. Therein, lies the all-encompassing crux of the story. She likes him, but doesn’t want an S and M relationship, he likes her, but doesn’t know how to do the standard relationship thing. Dum dum dum. Drama.

There are many, many things wrong with this book, the majority of which come down to bad concepts and bad writing. But what I’m more worried about are the responses from women reading this book, and the way women are presented.

Anastasia is a virgin. In her second year of college. In all likelihood, she’s not going to start an S and M relationship straight away. The ‘young woman coming of age’ drama has been a storyline since forever. EL James jumping in with a girl who orgasms five times the first time she has sex, then happily agrees to sex on her period, is not only misleading and confusing, but just…gross.

It’s pretty damn offensive to the S and M community. I doubt James has actually taken part in S and M situations, and she has said in interviews that these are her fantasies that she’s expressing on the page. That’s fine. But S and M is a legitimate sexual choice for certain people, and whilst Christian sets out a set of rules and limitations, James ruins this by later explaining that the reason he can’t have a ‘vanilla’ (boring, have-sex-in-front-of-the-television-almost-comatose type) relationship, is because his mother was a crack whore and he was pretty much sexually abused by a Mrs Robinson character.

This is BAD CHARACTERISATION. Is also sends the message that you are only into this type of relationship if you are massively fucked up. It then alternately makes women desire this kind of relationship. Hence all the readers should feel fucked up. Or they suddenly want to nurture the poor twisted hot guy, as is the way of silly women.

I have a problem that this should be ‘you’re’, but that’s just me.

Women talk about this relationship as if it’s an ideal. This seriously worries me, because the ‘great romance’ between these two characters is terrifying. If your best friend was in a relationship with a man who bought her a phone and a laptop so that she could text him and phone him wherever she went, told her what she could and could not eat, what to wear, what to drive, and isolated her from all of her friends, whilst demanding she stay in his house to be a sex slave, would your response be ‘Oh, but he’s so rich and dreamy’? NO. At least I hope not, or you’re a bad friend. Your response should be ‘this guy is a terrible control freak with endless resources and a desire to put you in dangerous situations and hurt you. Get out, idiot.’

I worry that if young women are reading this and believe this is an ideal relationship, all equality, friendship and other stable bases of romance will be gone, and we’ll be pretty much throwing away a good part of the women’s movement. Do not date control freaks. At best, you will end up alone six months down the line with no friends, no home and no idea of what you think of anything. Worst case, you’ll be trapped in a Red Room of Pain.

-Sex Personality vs Real Personality

Okay, so how you are in bed is your own damn business. Perhaps you get a little wild, speak a little differently. But when the voice of your main character goes from ‘I want you, and the thought of anyone else having you is like a knife twisting in my dark soul’. (Please excuse me whilst I throw up somewhere. Have you got a colour palette for exactly how dark your soul is, Christian? Are we thinking Pantone 2767? Let’s not be vague or melodramatic here) suddenly gets into the bedroom and becomes all ‘yeah baby, do it for me, yeah.’

Really? The overdressed, overeducated, control freak suddenly resorts to ‘yeah baby’s when he’s an S and M expert? Nope, not buying it.

-The Sex Scenes Aren’t Sexy.

There, I said it. I’m sorry, maybe it’s that I’m not the target market, which appears to be sexually frustrated mothers of a certain age. Maybe it’s because I unashamedly read a fair amount of chick lit that has decent sex scenes. Hell, even regular fiction has good sex scenes. There’s a few bits in American Psycho that are very steamy before he goes all psycho killer on them. So, in the same way that you should not think this is an ideal relationship, please do not think this is ideal sex. This is pretty much the poor literary equivalent to all those Cosmo advice columns on how thwacking his member with a tennis racket will make him like you more.

 

The possible contenders….

Well, there is a far from comprehensive list of reasons this book is not only bad, but potentially dangerous for the clearly baffling reading public. Also, you should check out this list of most hilarious quotes from the book. And, speaking of American Psycho, I’m really intrigued as to why Brett Easton Ellis is so obsessed with the series. He’s been posting up possible actors to play Christian in the film adaptation on twitter. And I have to admit, as much as I hate this book, there is likely to be a hottie playing the ridiculous main character. And as we all know, it’s fine when it’s a bad movie, just not when it’s a bad book that outsells Harry Potter.