GENIUS… MILLIONAIRE… CRIMINAL MASTERMIND…

His name is Fowl. Artemis Fowl.

All that and he’s twelve years old.

Fowl is the evil hero of Eoin Colfer’s series of children’s novels.

I have written before about my overall dislike of the unlikeable protagonist and anti-hero, however I confess I make an exception for Fowl. He is the classic brainy villain that is dangerously simple to romanticize. Sort of a Dr. Evil for the middle school set.

In truth then, I dislike reading about characters who wallow pathetically in their unhappy, unsatisfying lives or crushing ignorance. Both of these problems are best exemplified in my utter loathing of William Faulkner’s writing.

I can enjoy, even relate too, a reprehensible person like Artemis. While he is “differently moralled” to say the least, he is not intentionally cruel. What he does is not always legal or moral, but I can understand someone who goes after what they want with all their resources. Think of the story if Richie Rich or Johnny Quest had sociopathic tendencies.

While I am fond of young Fowl, I see myself in Captain Holly Short. She’s a fairy, one of the “People” who are basically all the mythical creatures that humans don’t realize are real and living underground. Short is a member of the elite law enforcement group LEPrecon. As the first female LEPrecon officer, she has much to prove.

Fowl manages to kidnap Holly and plans to ransom her for gold.

I love how clever this book is with all the mythology and campy humor. Get this: the LEPrecon techie guy is a centaur named Foaly. Punny, very Punny.

There are five novels in this fun series, plus a companion book with two short stories and extras, and a graphic novel adaption. Much thanks to Kate for recommending the book. Now I’m hooked on them.

Originally published October 3, 2007 on my old blog.

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN

This post was originally published August 27, 2007 on my old blog. I’ve made some small changes and additions before presenting it here.

 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, first published in 1943, takes place in the years before the first world war. It is the story of Francie Nolan’s childhood as a poor child in a poor neighborhood. Her mother, Katie Nolen, is a true hard worker struggling to keep food on the table. Her father, Johnny Nolan, is a charming alcoholic singing waiter who everyone loves, but cannot be counted on by the family. Francie has a younger brother, Neeley, who is not as sensitive or smart as she is, but their relationship is mostly good.

I read my mother’s copy for the first time around fifth or sixth grade. While the novel follow Francie well into her adult life, I credit the book with beginning my passion for coming of age stories.

I related to Francie, because books are her best friends, and she doesn’t have an easy time making friends in school. She loves writing, is thoughtful and melancholy. My life might never have been tough life Francie’s, but I still felt like she did inside some of the time.

The other thing that brought me back many times over is the imagery of Betty Smith’s story telling. Everything is so vivid: the people, the places, the ideas. It’s the details that have stuck with me. Little things like Francie’s mom teaching her to order a piece of meat at the butcher shop then ask the butcher to grind it fresh, rather than letting him sell her the inferior pre-ground meat. Yet Katie Nolan also believes in a little bit of waste being good for the soul, so she makes coffee each day for each family member to have a cup. If the children just enjoy the warmth of the cup and the aroma, then so be it. It is their cup to enjoy and pour the rest down the drain if it comes to that.

I do believe that much of my understanding of compassion and human nature came from the books I read. Francie’s family is loving, but imperfect. Hardworking mom Katie can often be just plan hard toward Francie, partly because although she has always loved her husband, she wants Francie to have an easier time in life. She drives her away from boys and frivolity towards education and employment. My favorite of the extended family is Aunt Sissy who has lots of boyfriends and husbands. She’s buxom, passionate and plays with the kids with gusto. She is much frowned on in the neighborhood, and is in no way considered a good lady in that time period. I love her exuberance while knowing I am not a Sissy type of person. I worry about the consequences of my actions and endeavor not to make the same mistakes twice more like Katie. Of course, as a kid, I could only see myself in Francie, but that is the beauty of reading the same book throughout a lifetime.

Does anyone else have a favorite coming of age novel they’ve loved forever?

KINDLE DAILY DEAL: BIGGEST DECISION OF THE DAY

I love Amazon.

Since I got my Kindle for Christmas, I’ve spent more time shopping on Amazon and ordered more items from them than ever before. Note, I did not say I’ve spent more money with them than before. After Christmases 2011 and 2012 alone, I can safely say my book downloading hasn’t yet come close to my physical orders in cost.

I am, rather, as thrifty in my ebook habits as I ever was in acquiring physical books. Used books, hand-me-downs and, occasionally, PaperBackSwap were the main ways I grew my paper library. For Kindle, it’s Pixel of Ink for scoops on free books on Amazon and Project Gutenberg for all kinds of classics, plus Kindle Daily Deals and other promotions. I’ll buy a book at list price if it’s really important, but I begrudge anything over $10 as publishers hanging onto the last bit of extra cash they can garner before the market corrects for the fact the physical product costs more to produce and deliver. I am all about writers, editors and (please hire one, people) copy editors getting paid. Even in the digital age, marketing a major author takes some cash. I’m not cool with seeing the Kindle edition go for the same as the paperback. There are millions of books in the world and I’m happy to find one within my price range.

While I am still not spending much on books, in many ways, Amazon’s features and business practices have changed my reading experience.

The Daily Deal is certainly the most obvious change. Each night around 3 am Eastern Standard, an extremely good deal goes live for 24-hours. I pride myself on being thrifty, but not cheap, so I try to look at the one day only specials Amazon posts with a critical, but not too critical eye.

A few titles, I’ve pounced on without a second thought. I’d seen How We Decide reviewed at some point, likely on Slate. I bought Matched based on the recommendation from a book blog and because I love dystopian stories. Neverwhere because Neil Gaiman is wonderful and weird. As I already explained why How to Read Literature Like a Professor was too tempting to resist.

Up until recently, I didn’t check out the Daily Deal every day. My change in schedule has made it more a part of my routine. I get off work at the same time the deal goes live and find myself pulling up the page on my phone in the elevator on the way out of the office. Since the prices typically range from $1.99 to $3.99, I’m pretty comfortable going ahead with as many as are worthwhile especially since I am often disappointed with the offering. Dog the Bounty Hunter’s memoir somehow isn’t my idea of compelling literature.

The nights when I instantly nix the title are the easiest. Most often, as the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Since my taste in books runs broad, the tiny blurb on the Kindle store page is seldom enough to rule out the deal. Next, I read the summary to establish wither I’m interested in the slightest. I can’t explain the factors which get me past this point, except to say most books make it to the next stage: I download a sample, usually the first chapter and a half, to my Kindle for inspection.

Sampling is one of my favorite things about using Kindle. It is a million times better then standing the the bookstore, reading the back cover and making a rush decision. Maybe if I’d had the luxury of hanging around Barnes & Noble for an hour whenever I wanted, I wouldn’t be so enamored, but for me starting a book before making a financial commitment has been a revolution. Plus, rather than keeping a wish list of books I want to remember to buy down the road, I simply download the sample.

With the Daily Deals or, my new discovery, $3.99 and under monthly specials, I prioritize sample reading and decision making for those titles. Naturally, I don’t want to discover after the price has returned to normal that I must finish the book. Some would mention the Kindle lending library, but it only offers one book a month which is nice but not enough to keep me in reading material.

The Daily Deal, even downloaded as early as 3:02 am, causes the most pressure. I find myself looking at these works far more harshly than I would if, say, I checked them out of the library on a whim. Rather than letting the story roll over me, I look for things which would drive me to stop reading: Characters who seem annoying or unrealistic, historical inconsistencies or plot holes. If I am to invest both my precious reading time and my hard earned $1.99 in a book, I don’t want to put it down unfinished.

In a book offered at regular price, the effect is not so drastic. I can safely say, I won’t buy it unless it was pretty much a sure thing before I read the sample. Take Scali’s Redshirts. Even at $11.99, I happily pressed “buy it now” because I knew I would love every moment and was unwilling to wait for the price to drop and considered it more of an early adopter tax.

I am sad to say, I have given free books – paper and digital – far more of my time than I should on many occasions in an effort to given them a fair shake. Maybe it is better that I am so terribly critical of these early chapters. I feel a strange near-guilt over cutting books I find unworthy. Worse, it seems arbitrary and unscientific as I can sometimes say why I didn’t buy a book, but I can hardly ever name the reason I say yes without an honorable recommendation or a known author. What if I was wrong to buy On Bear Mountain and not to buy Garden of Lies, nixed because I felt it unrealistic to have a wealthy 1940s American woman out shopping by herself in the final weeks of her pregnancy. Since the entire plot hinged on it, I could hardly continue. If I was wrong, I may never know, but I may read a glowing review in the coming weeks and regret my decision.

Likely it is better, this new vetting process. While my fondest wish may be to get to all the wonderful books, I must face my time is limited and read accordingly. Still, it feels strange to scrutinize so in the early pages of a book I wonder if I’ll ever feel it normal.

Now, excuse me, it’s nearly time to pull up Amazon and hit refresh until the Daily Deal posts.

ONE OR MANY STORIES

It’s Friday as I start my response and will likely be Saturday when I publish it in addition to being the Monday of my workweek, yet I have an answer to share for Booking Through Thursday, so here is the question:

Series or Stand-alone?

My ideal preference is for related books based in – to borrow a science fiction term – the same universe yet with each book a self contained story. I like meeting old friends again or peaking behind corners I wasn’t privy to in another book, but I prefer not to need additional reading to complete the story.

I can name several sets of books I love which fit the standard of “companion” books.

Madeleine L’Engle, my favorite author since I first read A Wrinkle in Time, had interconnections in nearly all of her novels. In most editions of her young adult works, you’ll find a family tree linking her characters. When I first saw it in the copies of the Time Quartet, I poured over it. I spent the next several years acquiring each related title and read them all into dog-eared familiarity.

At the other end of my taste in books, Rachel Gibson often writes romances for supporting cast in previous books or slips in a situation where an old friend can make a cameo without making it a series.
She wrote a bunch of stories featuring the fictional Seattle Chinooks Hockey Team in one way or another and books set in a rural Idaho town and a Texas town. The closest she comes to a true series is her quartet of friends each of whom are writers in a different genera and have completely different approaches to romance. Even those are stand-alone stories even though it’s obvious each woman will eventually get a book of her own. Being romance, they can be read out of order because the formula of girl meets boy, conflict keeps them apart, conflict is resolved, happily ever after ensues is a given. All that is revealed in reading out of order is the name attached to the inevitable spouse.

If truly choosing between a series or a stand-alone book without the option of companion books, I would have to go for stand-alone books. I often feel, especially with modern writers, a story is split into “trilogies” or more simply for financial reasons. If it’s not a literary device, I would rather a writer tell me the story in one volume. Even Tolkien wanted Lord of the Rings to be one book, so I do suspect the vast majority of decisions to serialize comes from the publisher rather than the writer.

It is not just my inner cynic, however, preferring one book over many. The list of books which I count not just as favorites, but as life impacting includes so many titles without sequels or companions. Many of them leave little room for addition except in the reader’s imagination. I can’t fathom a book to go with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Girl With Pearl Earring, or The Red Tent. Or A Handmaid’s Tale. Or Nightfall. Or To Live Again. I could go on for days listing titles.

I go back to the original when I want visit with my friends who live in that world. I know them intimately, yet each time I see the book a new way. I believe there is a C.S. Lewis quote regarding the necessity of reading a book more than once to really understand it, but I haven’t been able to find it. Even if he didn’t say it, I do. Certainly, a book well loved is different each time it is read if for no other reason than the personal growth in the reader which occurs between readings.

It seems in my own reading, the more books about a character, the less depth the subsequent readings provides. One book is like a single painting or photograph. A series is like a movie. When you look at a single stationary object of art over a period of time, the meaning comes not from seeing things you haven’t seen before, but from seeing the same things in a different way. Of course, the experience exists in any artistic form, but is seems to me the more brevity in the work, the more room for seeing this way. Short stories or poems work better than novels, I think, and single books better than series.

With all that being said, sometimes a series is necessary to the story or format of the stories. Detective tales lend themselves to series as do closely related police procedural novels – and yes there is a real difference between those two types of books – because each crime faced is a new story no matter who is solving it. I can’t imagine The Chronicles of Narnia being one book instead of seven. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy could have been one book, but it could not have been a single book telling all the stories of the five books in the trilogy.

The bottom line becomes simple: The story itself ought dictate whiter the format is a single book, companion books, or a series.

HOW TO USE, ADAPT, AND DESIGN SEWING PATTERNS

This week’s musing asks… What is the last book that you learned something from? What book was it, and what did it teach you?

 

It is entirely likely friends and readers are sick to death of hearing about my sewing adventures. I sympathize. I can’t wait to be less focused on sewing for a bit, but I trudge on.

The success I’ve had in modifying a pattern and completing a muslin mockup of my dress for our Klingon wedding performance in April is in large part thanks to How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns: From store-bought patterns to drafting your own: a complete guide to fashion sewing with confidence by Lee Hollanhan. The copy Chris got me for Christmas is destined to be dog-eared.

I’ve mentioned it in a couple posts, but I cannot say enough good things about it.

One thing I’ve found in learning crafts in general and sewing specifically is most instructions assume a certain level of familiarity with the basic skills and terminology. This book starts at the beginning of it’s subject matter assuming no knowledge and even includes a section in the back with basic sewing techniques.

Now, I didn’t go into this a total novice, but I being primarily self taught, I would not have known to iron my pattern pieces (who would think you could iron paper?) or how serrated scissors are the best option for silky fabrics. Clear illustrations and color photography show things I’d always thought I’d need an experienced sewer to teach me in person. Like laying out patterns on stripped or patterned fabric. Now, I haven’t tried it yet, but I feel like I could do it referencing the pictures in the book.

Hands down, the most useful part of the book for my needs is the chart with all the body parts to be measured for comparison to the pattern measurements complete with explanation and diagrams. I wouldn’t have known where to start without those seventeen points of reference. Add the section showing how to modify store bought patterns made my project possible. Now, I will say, the part on modifying pattern pieces was only the start of what I ended up having to do. Both the shape of the dress and my body shape differ substantially from the examples, but apply the principles I learned in the book, some common sense and geometry got me where I needed to go.

UPTOWN LOCAL AND OTHER INTERVENTIONS


I bought Uptown Local and Other Interventions by Diane Duane for two reasons. First, Diane Duane wrote my favorite Star Trek novel. No surprise, it’s Spock’s World, but I don’t just love it because I love Spock. Telling the grand tale of Vulcan from it’s formation as a planet to Kirk’s time (as we think of it in the Federation terms) and interwoven with a complicated plot involving inter-planetary politics and, of course, involving the crew of the Enterprise is an impressive feat of writing. I’m not ashamed to say, multiple points in the book move me to tears.

So when John Scalzi put out a call to his blog readers to buy digital copies of her books from Ebooks Direct while she was dealing with the fallout from fraudulent activity on her bank account. Banks don’t care if you need money to eat and stuff while they sort out the details and I was more than happy to trade a little cash for ebooks. Did I mention, I love my Kindle?

I got Uptown Local and a book by Diane’s husband Peter Morwood which I haven’t read yet.

First, I should say, I love short stories. A well written short story, especially in fantasy and science fiction, the world building and story telling in a small number of words creates a distilled flavor that packs a punch most full length novel can’t match. Almost all the fantasy I’ve read has been in the form of short stories. Maybe that’s because so many fantasy novels are super long and intimidate me. Short stories give me everything I need – dragons and magic and a connection to mythology – without reading for weeks.

One difficult thing about reviewing short story collections is not spoiling the stories. I loved this collection. Some of the stories are set in the universe of Diane’s Young Wizard young adult novels. I want to pick those up based on the strength of these stories. Modern settings for magical stories dominate the collection. The couple revolving around food were very cool and connected to each other but not interdependent. The characters and settings are well developed, again, hard to do in smaller word counts. Establish mythology is played played with and even a famous (dead) writer is called into action to save his hometown.

What happened with Diane’s bank account was terrible and I wouldn’t wish such frustration on anyone, but I’m glad I tried one of her non-Trek books. I won’t be waiting for such an event to pick up some more.

ON YA FICTION

This weeks question: Why do you think that the Young Adult genre is so popular with even the adult readers? Do you read YA books, yourself?
It is much easier to answer the second question first: I read young adult novels.

I was only 12 or 13 when I started reading books not written for kids and teens. I read a metric ton of books in my teens without regard for anything but interest, one book leading to another as I read through everything I could get my hands on by certain authors.

I did read YA authors like Lois Duncan, Paula Danzig and plenty of others I couldn’t name if you paid me. I read the Chronicles of Narnia. I read Matilda though I was not interested other Dalh. My introduction to Robert Silverberg was a little kid chapter book called Lost Race Of Mars. Boy, was I surprised when I checked To Live Again out of the library at the tender age of twelve. My all-time favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle, is best known for her young adult fiction generally and A Wrinkle in Time specifically. I first read Wrinkle when I was ten, but a few years later I was special ordering memoirs and fiction from the bookstore. Besides classics, science fiction, and classic science fiction, L’Engle was my start into the world of adult novels.

The reason I mention my personal history in transitioning from YA to “regular” books at an early age is that the process has colored my viewpoint. At first, I felt grown up reading and understanding books above my age level. Over time, however, I saw the quality of a book wasn’t related to the age of the intended reader. With this knowledge, I didn’t feel like I shouldn’t read YA though I confess some of the campier fare did begin to bore me.

As an adult, I have no problem reading YA without a lick of shame. Heck, hand me Dr. Suess or Shel Silverstein and I’m happy as a clam. Good writing and storytelling are the same no matter who the intended audience. It’s true with movies and television, too.

It is weird to me to think of YA as a genre, let alone in relation to adults reading it. Everyone has their own reasons. For some, it may simply be reading comprehension level. I don’t mean that as a slam. Reading is the best way to increase reading skills and I’m always pro-reading whatever it is a person likes to read. I enjoy “light” adult books not much more difficult.

A couple of my personal reasons for reading YA could be factors for others.

It appears the most popular YA among adults is of the fantastical sort. Be it Harry Potter or Twilight, adults are reading it. Less popular, but way awesome are the Artemis Fowl books which mix myth and magic with high tech gadgets. It could be argued there’s plenty of this type of fiction written for adults, but I do find the YA fantasy and science fiction authors are more likely to be mainstream.

Another sub-genre of YA I’m especially fond of is “coming of age” tales. From classics like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I love reading about a young person on the precipitous of maturity. Something about that point in life is so compelling. It was when I was at the age of the characters and it is looking back at them through the lens of adulthood. I don’t know anyone who had such a rosy adolescence they can’t relate. And relating to the characters is one of the biggest reasons I read anything.

I’m interested to see other reader’s answers to the why part of the musing.

JANUARY 19TH, 2012 WORD FOR WORD

I read books word for word with a few exceptions. Reference books, including cookbooks, are a find what I need proposition though I will often at read the entire book once to know what information it contains. In short story collections, I often find myself skipping certain stories especially when rereading. More often than not, I’m read a collection a second or twentieth time for one story that’s been on my mind for some reason.

 

When it comes to books containing a narrative spanning the entire length, be it fiction or non-fiction, I do not skip around or skip over sections. It would break my concentration and take me out of the world the book creates in my brain.

I’m not entirely sure how to do so without missing things. It’s not like watching a DVD where you can see the action at super fast speed and would know when to slow down to regular speed again after whatever you were skipping.

What I feel no guilt about is quitting a book where I’d be tempted to skip parts in simply to “finish” or for curiosity’s sake. Okay, that is a slight lie. I don’t feel bad if it’s a random book with which I’m struggling. If it’s a classic or otherwise important book, I worry I’m the problem, rather than the unreadable book or acknowledging not every book is for every reader. It’s a trap I fall into from time to time because one of the reasons I read, at least that kind of book, is to reassure myself I’m as intellectual as I think I. With the total catalog of Project Gutenburg accessible in portable form, I’m going to have to work on that hang up. Too many books and too little time to read something sucky and the only criteria should be wither I think it sucks.

JANUARY 18TH, 2012 I WANT IT NOW! A MEMOIR OF LIFE ON THE SET OF WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY


If I hadn’t stumbled across I Want it Now! on promotion for Kindle, I wouldn’t have sought out Julie Dawn Cole’s memoir. Shamefully, I wouldn’t have recognized her name. Gene Wilder is the only actor’s name I knew from the movie. I suspect most Americans, outside of hard core Wonka maniacs, would say the same. And, while I love the movie, I’ll admit, I read this book in part because I’ve had a wee crush on Gene Wilder since I first saw him as Willy Wonka. Those blue eyes and that charisma drew me in even before I knew about crushes. I read Gene’s memoir, Kiss Me Like A Stranger, a couple years ago. It is among my favorite memoirs and made me feel as though those feelings are not misplaced. He’s every bit as complex as Wonka, but young Julie was nearly Veruca’s polar opposite.

What I learned from the book is while Juile is best known in America as Veruca Salt, she went on to have a successful acting career in British television and theater. At the time she was cast for Wonka, she was commuting hours each day to attend a school for the preforming arts. I admire the dedication to her craft at such a young age. She spent the ten weeks of filming away from her family in a foreign country and speaks candidly about how hard it was while also a wonderful experience.

The bulk of the book centers around the filming of Willy Wonka and Juile’s relationships with the other cast members. It’s truly a memoir of the filming filled with her personal recollections. It’s so sweet how she reveals her long-ago crush on Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie, and how she and Denise Nickerson, who played Violet, would vie for his attention. It put me in mind of my childhood sweetheart in the innocence of it. Michael Bollner, the German boy who Augustus Gloop, did not get to know the others as well because he did not speak English.

One fascinating aspect of filming I would never have guessed is how a majority of scenes were filmed in chronological order. The four children were kept from viewing sets ahead of time to capture genuine reaction. Thinking back on the film’s elaborate sets, I could imagine how much fun it would be to film. The most overused word in the book is “magic” or “magical.” Co-author Michael Esslinger admits as much in the foreword. I tend to notice things like reuse of words in books, and this was no exception, but I honestly don’t know how any other word could fit. Walk onto those colorful sets, told to explore. Imagine, in the chocolate room, many of the props were actually eatable. Magic, no?

After recounting her tales about the Chocolate Factory, Julie covers her acting career, highlights of her personal life, and recent reconnection with the other Wonka kids. A potent reminder one can be famous elsewhere and relatively unknown in the States even among confirmed anglophiles.

I enjoyed the book. The rare and personal photos throughout are worth it alone for those with a strong attachment to the film. I did find the long captions were redundant, sometimes pulled directly from the text, but it is only a small criticism in an overall delightful book. I suspect it was a deliberate choice to appeal to anyone looking to thumb through for the pictures without reading every word. Many of the important points would be covered if one were to do this, but it is a small and light enough to read word for word.

One warning: You will come away a strong urge to watch the movie and it’s not currently offered streaming on Netflix.

KINDLE CONVERT

Today’s question:
What devices –if any– do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome? Or: If you only read the print books, why haven’t you chosen to read on any devices?

The shine is still on my Kindle. Chris got it for me for Christmas. I’d decided I’d wanted one a while ago and carefully debated the features of the various Kindle models before picking one for my, conveniently on Amazon, wish list. In the end, I decided my purpose would be best filled with the basic model. See, I have two laptops at my disposal at home. One is essentially used as a desktop in our office. The other lives in the living room, but trails to the dinning room, kitchen or bedroom as I go about my day. I use it to pay music or listen to podcasts pretty much all the time when I’m home alone along with keeping Firefox open for Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader. Now, all that stuff would be awesome on the Kindle Fire, but my needs are filled with the laptop. I’ve got Netflix on the PS3 or Wii. And that’s only the tip of our gadget iceberg.

The Kindle, I wanted for reading. Old fashioned reading of books.

I don’t have a ton of time to sit around with a book. It’s a good in many ways. I’m busy with other things that make me happier than I’d be if I was reading all the time. I’ve downloaded eBooks and attempted to read on the computer. If I’m on the computer, reading, I’m distracted by all kinds of other things. Plus, you can’t lay in bed with a laptop or read in the bathroom (I do it unabashedly). The basic Kindle takes away all those distractions. The things it does do besides displaying eBooks and documents are painfully inconvenient without a keyboard or touch screen. Even doing the initial set up was tedious and I saved most of it (specifically, typing in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in the device name field) to do on Amazon from the computer. I would recommend the more advanced versions for anyone who wants to access Twitter or Facebook from their Kindle. I do those things from my Blackberry – sometimes even when I’m a foot away from the laptop – so I didn’t want the feature in my eReader.

It’s been under a month, but I flipping love my Kindle. It’s sleek and lightweight. I can’t begin to describe how comfortable the E Ink is on the eyes. Lack of backlight contributes, no doubt. I found I’m reading faster. My eyes just glide over the words. The font is adjustable. Mine is set on the smallest setting, about the size of print in the average paperback. Pictures and other images are crisp and clean.

Now, I do love physical books. I got two for Christmas. A reference book about sewing I’d asked for: How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns: From store-bought patterns to drafting your own: a complete guide to fashion sewing with confidence and Jeff Dunham’s All By My Selves. With the sewing book or any other how-to or reference books where images and diagrams are important, I suspect I’ll always prefer the physical book. From a functional perspective, I can keep it with my project with bookmarks or lists marking the pages. Even a color eReader wouldn’t fit the bill. Plus, one of the things I like on the Kindle is how it comes to life on the last page I was reading. I’m reading a book on the Kindle, currently sitting on the bathroom counter, and working on a project requiring the reference book. Call be lazy, but I’d rather have those two separate than toggle back and for multiple times per day.

One thing I haven’t done yet is to take the Kindle out with me. I’m still working on is either finding a sleeve or cover I love. More likely, I’ll be making a sleeve. I’m less worried about breaking or dosing with water since I picked up the $24.99 insurance plan. Best investment ever for peace of mind. It’s a beautiful device for the hardcore readers.