When the Kindle Won My Heart

I finally broke down and purchased a Kindle. I was vehemently against owning one, for the simple fact that they are aiding in the obsolete-ness of actual paper books, but I figured the convenience and cool-factor outweighed that. I even purchased a fancy cover for it, since this reading toy would be my new best friend for a while.

My bedroom is so cluttered and tiny, and most of that clutter is books. Now, unless it’s something special I must own a hard copy of (like Harry Potter), I’ll purchase all my books on the Kindle. Once I read all the books on at least one of my shelves, I’ll box those books up and donate them to a library, women’s shelter, or wherever else takes books. As far as “OMG KINDLE IS RUINING BOOKS!”…I just have to get over my book snobbery, and know that literature will never truly go away. It’s like music – the popular and preferred mode of listening has changed (twice in my lifetime), but there is still music being produced. Cassettes to CDs and then to digital songs. Paper, audio, and then eBooks.

I’ve already downloaded three books. Right now, I’m reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Here’s the description from Amazon.com by Tom Nissley:

From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive–even thrive–in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta’s family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution–and her cells’ strange survival–left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories?

Sounds amazing, right? I’m only 9% done (still getting used to percentages instead of page numbers), but I think I like it so far. Except something is bothering me about the author that I can’t quite put my finger on yet. I’m not sure if it’s her overly-clinical voice when talking about the family and this sensitive subject, or if it’s just the whole “white person writing about the intimate lives of people of color” thing which often skeeves me out. I get the same feeling when I read stories about disabled people/lives written by abled people. Although I’m not sure if that’s what’s going on here – I’ll have to read more before I understand.

I also downloaded Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue on the recommendation of my cousin, and The Lady Matador’s Hotel by Cristina Garcia, who is a Cuban author I adore. I’ll write about those when I read them.

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

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2 responses to “When the Kindle Won My Heart

  1. i agree that literature is not going to be killed by e-readers. but i do wonder about bookstores. the digital music revolution has not been kind of brick & mortar record shops. the most recent statistics indicate that the number of independent bookstores has plateaued & has been holding steady for a couple of years, while the big box bookstores have been struggling (& failing) to get through the recession in one piece. but how will e-readers change that landscape? i worry.

    i’ve heard a lot of good things about room but i am too scared to read it. i’m very afraid that it will just traumatize me. i have hard time with stories like that.

    right now i am reading you don’t look like anyone i know by heather sellers. it’s about being an adult coming to terms with the fact that her mother is a paranoid schizophrenic & that she herself has face blindness (an inability to recognize faces). heather has written a couple of writing instruction books i like, & this book is actually pretty good…which is high praise, coming from me. also on deck are a few mommy/new simplicity-type memoirs (i’m a sucker for them), the new brock clark novel, origins (about how gestational development impacts a person’s life), & a whole stack of cheesy madeleine wickham novels (the same woman who wrote the “shopaholic” series writing under a different name). & some other stuff too….

    • Amazon is killing the big-name bookstores. I can’t even remember the last time I bought a book from somewhere other than Amazon. There used to be a used bookshop by my house, but it had stairs so I couldn’t get in. Our local “public” library also had steps and I couldn’t get in. Amazon is like, my go-to for just about anything: books, movies, video games. If I could grocery shop there, I probably would.

      I worry more about libraries than bookstores, honestly. Funding is already going down the drain, and if less people are reading physical books, that doesn’t help. I feel like the disadvantaged would be the only ones missing out. Unless libraries start embracing the eBook revolution – I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe they already are embracing it? I haven’t been to a library in forever, so I’m not sure. Must research that.

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