The Joy of Reading on the Kindle
The Kindle is a blessing.
Whenever I tell someone that I love reading on the Kindle, the usual response is “I prefer paper books because I can feel the page and enjoy the pleasing scent of real paper.” They’re simply missing the point: there is no comparison inherent between ebooks and paperbooks. The ereader is not created to replace paperbooks, as the latter has achieved its perfect form. This is not a case of reinventing the wheel. In fact, it is more of a wheel versus maglev situation. They are just different.
In the final analysis, however, aren’t we all reading the same book? My six-year-old niece listened to Harry Potter audiobooks. I read them on my Kindle. We later had an awesome conversation about Harry and his adventures, recalling the same details. I don’t hear people say “Well, Stephen Fry’s narration is legendary and all, but I prefer paperbooks because I love the voice in my head when I read one.”
Now, a Kindle can hold many books. My Kindle Paperwhite has a storage of 8 gigabytes and thus can hold up to 6000 books, more than what I can read over a lifetime. Let’s say a person reads from the age of 7 nonstop, one book a week, to 80. That’s 3,276 books.
How do I get books on my Kindle? That’s easy. I have the world’s library at my fingertip — the Amazon Kindle Store. There I can essentially buy 99% of the items on my reading list, many cheaper than their physical counterparts. Just a few touches and there comes the book. We as millennials tend to take things for granted, but this is practically magic. A poor soul a hundred years ago could only learn to be patient.
With non-fiction books, I read and highlight, sometimes making notes. All those data will be synced to a service called Readwise. This web app turns all my highlights and notes into flashcards, and then sends about 6 random ones to my email every day for review. That way I make sure what I read will not be obliviated.
With fiction, a nice little feature allows me to immerse myself in the story: I can disable the touchscreen so that the only gesture I can make is swiping forward (or sometimes back), instead of looking up new words like an obsessive.
But the best thing about the Kindle is a technological wonder called font! I can use virtually any typeface, serif or san serif, with adjustable size and weight, line height, and margin. I used to buy lots of paperbooks and I learned this: not every book is created equal. Many unfortunate books are born having a grotesque appearance. Either the text is too small or too dense, or both. There may be hardly any space for avid practitioners of marginalia. Sometimes (gosh darn it!) the text is printed just ever so askew and I spend the rest of my life hating myself.
On my Kindle I tend to read most often with Bookerly, an Amazon exclusive font. Bookerly is a godsend.
Did I tell you I have an 8-month-old baby? Now I should go ahead and establish a cult of parents who use one hand to read on the Kindle with young babies sleeping in their arms. Yes, that is me doing just that in the profile picture. Sometimes he sleeps like that for one hour and a half. He is well rested, and I am well read (pun indeed intended.)
I had my first Kindle when I was still a junior, when Amazon was not so romantic as to give the Kindle cute epithets. Back then, page turning was still flashing and slow, but it was love at first sight all the same. I loved to read as a child when books were not easy to find — I lived in a rather poor, rural area — and I used to wait every week for my mother to bring home a children’s magazine from her school. Now a teacher and a father of one, I am empowered by the Kindle. To call it a blessing is an understatement.