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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?

 

Uncategorized

Book Snobs, and the Acceptable Limits of Teen Paranormal Fiction.

You know the number one cited reason for buying an e-reader? ‘No-one can see what I’m reading.’

Yep, it’s true, thanks to e-books, you can now read whatever z-list celebrity biography or trashy romance novel you want, free from sniggering and judgement on public transport.

What is it with feeling guilty? Why do we need to define books as ‘guilty pleasures’ when really, if you’re truly enjoying it, you shouldn’t feel guilty at all? If you enjoy eating Marmite, and the people around you do not, (because they’re sane) do you define that piece of toast with the spread of your choice as a ‘guilty pleasure’? No, you assume they have terrible tastebuds, and enjoy your food.

 

We all take part in this world of literary snobbery, whether it’s hiding our paperback by breaking the spine (you people SUCK, seriously, why do you do that?) to bend the cover over, or by judging others when they tell you they’ve just finished the latest Twilight.

 

You can find this t-shirt at Fright Rags

I’m a big fan of ‘it’s what you are like, not what you like’ as a concept. But I’m probably still going to make a subconscious judgement if you’ve read (and enjoyed) Twilight. Why? Why on earth do I care if you want to read teen vamp literature written by a Mormon? Surely I should just be a good human being and be pleased that you found joy in the written word, that you found a means of escape from your dreary normal life, into a paranormal adventure.

 

But clearly, I’m not a good human being. Because I DO judge you. Just as you judge me. Which is why I only read Kafka on the tube.

 

Is it maybe that we’re looking to connect with others? Would a Twilight fan see you reading on the bus and think ‘you know, we’re connected, we are intertwined by our ability to get sucked into this world, and I consider you a friend, dear stranger’? (Well, no, because in their head they’re probably trying to figure out which ‘Team’ you’re on, and which is the best way to stab you if you say ‘Jacob’, but still). We see people with Harry Potter tattoos and we know they understand us.

 

Speaking of embarrassing reading...

There is something definitive about series, particularly children/teen book series that binds people together. Perhaps it’s that teenagers are prone to melodrama, and so the books seem more important, or maybe it’s because these series ultimately get turned into films and have a wider reach, again, making them seem more important. Either way, I’m going to make a bold statement: I think everybody should read teen fiction.

 

I think the themes that relate to teenagers can be understood by us all: fitting in, being outcast, wanting to be special, wanting to be loved and understood. And I think that teen fiction can be truly excellent, whether it’s standard or supernatural. The tone of writing makes it easy reading, but the subject matter makes us connect. Or it should, if you were ever a teenager. Maybe you were the high school quarter back cliche and you sailed through school without a second thought: Good for you, you’re boring and I’m sure your advanced years will only continue to be so.

 

This picture was taken using Instagram, and therefore everyone looks cooler. EXCEPT FOR THE BENT SPINE OF THE BOOK! MURDERER

Why did I write this? Because I was explaining to a friend about how much I was enjoying the second book in The Hunger Games series, and looking forward to the film. And I was embarrassed by this. Now, I get embarrassed by pretty much everything, from my ability to accidentally insult people then awkwardly backtrack, to my inability to talk to pretty men. But I am never embarrassed by what I read, because if I enjoy it, then to me, it has served its purpose.

So feeling guilty about reading something that was well written, excellently conceived and has left me wanting more made me feel…well, guilty for bowing to social convention, I guess.

 

So, let us rise up against a tide of injustice, and for now and forever let us say: ‘I shall not be ashamed!’*

 

I hope you’re enjoying whatever you’re reading right now, and if you haven’t already, check out The Hunger Games. It’s more than just your average teen fiction, it’s a comment on society! Honestly, even The Guardian says so!

*This does not apply to Twilight fans. You should be ashamed. Unless you’re reading it ironically, in which case, you’re supercool, obvs.