A Merry Christmas Mind Dump: On Reading
I’m just going to free type here for a bit. I’m really feeling the need to write something tonight. About reading. It’ll make sense, really.
I stopped reading when I was younger. It’s not that I couldn’t, but I stopped wanting to. I just got tired of picking up books and flipping through the pages for any serious reason. I didn’t enjoy the overall college experience, and I think that fighting my way through my Bachelor’s degree sucked the joy of reading from me for the better part of a decade.
Funny Story: When I (finally) graduated with my Computer Science degree, I was taken to lunch by my advisor/dean and the people in the school office I worked at. The office secretary asked me, totally deadpan, “So, when are you planning to get your Master’s degree?” I laughed so hard, I almost fell out of my chair. She looked offended, “I wasn’t joking.” “Neither was I,” I replied. It took me almost ten years to get that first degree. I had (and still have) no interest in repeating that experience. Ever.
Back to reading. About three years ago (give or take a few months) I started to once again pick up books here and there and slowly paged through them. A friend lent me Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian, and the two books that followed in that series, and I really enjoyed them. (I still believe that the first book is challenging and worth reading, even if you don’t agree with McLaren in general – and I don’t). After that, the wick was re-lit and I began building up a stack of books I wanted to read. Now I’m always on the lookout for new ones to add to my stack, and I’m reading through more and more of them each year.
So, for the last couple of Christmases, my lists have been composed of pretty much nothing but books. I received five from last year’s list, and I’ve read through all of them and more. This year, I only received three books from my list…and a Kindle.
Confession Time: I’ve been really resistant to the idea of using an eReader. I enjoy the feel of having a book in my hand. Turning the pages and being able to see how quickly I’ve read through the text. Marking the sentences and paragraphs that interest me with sticky tabs. It’s all very warm and tactile and earthy and I truly feared that bringing cold technology into this newly reborn habit would cause some of the joy to trickle away again.
On the other hand, I’m a computer guy. I like gadgets. New toys. The idea of electronic books excited me. I got to play with a Kindle at my in-law’s home over Thanksgiving, and I was instantly seduced by the thing. It is seriously slick.
So, they got me one. Damn nice of them. Got an awesome cover from my brother-in-law, too.
I really want to screw around with it, now, but I’m resisting the urge to go buy a book I want just so I can read it on the thing. It feels too much like an impulse buy and that sets off alarms in my head nowadays. I have a stack of 14 books to read through on the shelf behind me. Buying another book just to page through it on the latest gizmo feels like a waste of money. I’m going to have to go look through the list of free books, I guess.
Am I still afraid of what effect the technology is going to have on my reading? Less so than I was before. Familiarity has eroded much of the fear away, as often happens, but a little still lingers. Not enough to keep me from using it, though.
Anyway, I’m closing the year with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. Next year will probably start with Flickering Pixels by Shane Hipps, because I’ve been wanting to read it for several months. After that, we’ll just have to see which one grabs my attention.
So, any suggestions for interesting free books for the Kindle?
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