My new job1 has, amongst other things, led to two hours a day being spent travelling in that not-so-ancient2 institution known as commuting. For the most part, I don't dislike it — on my less good days, the noise that hundreds of people generates disturbs and agitates me, but nothing the outside walk from station to destination doesn't solve.
What it has done is given me a lot of time to catch up on my reading. My Kindle was loaded up with me Arthur C Clarke and Issac Asimov collections early in the summer — most of which I finished whilst not gainfully employed over the summer, progressing back through Pratchett's Discworld, and (with work beginning) Neal Stephenson's bibliography.
After that, divergence begins to occur. If I had more time, and any skill at doing such things, I'd write little book reviews of all of the things I'm reading; as it is, I'm once again giving away a little more of who I am to the internet in a much more ordered way over on shelfari3, eventually with the aim of taking advantage of the link with Amazon to get some shiny offers and recommendations somewhere down the line.
My decision to give this information away, freely, is something which probably sets me apart from many of my internet peers. I am most certainly not anonymous and my opinions on privacy...differs from others. A thought for another post.
The key thing for today, however, is the fact that I've read all of these on the Kindle, which is likely to have a massive impact on my reading habits for the foreseeable future. The screen is clean, the text resizeable, and it fits into my coat pocket. But none of the these are the reason why things are changing, but rather something much more fundamental and, in many ways, more subtle: on the kindle, I no longer damage books when I read them.
Books are all tomes of some kind of knowledge (even stories are knowledge), and I have gained a great deal of respect for them. In many ways, I think of them more fondly than computers, which of course I go as far as naming. Despite this, I'm nowhere near as well read as I would like to be, but I am rather disposed to be careful with my books.
This weekend took my out on ICSF's bookcrawl, which allowed me to catch up with a lot of people. I didn't buy any books4, but I also forgot to charge my Kindle after all the recent running around5. So, whilst we were waiting for everyone to assemble for departure, I got the library's copy of Neil Gaiman's American Gods out, and found my place. I only got a few page in then, as people began turning up and I vaguely move over to conversation.
Nonetheless, I decided to take the book with me that evening6. Sunday afternoon, I settled down to read it. As I turned the pages, I felt wrong — at my fingertips, I could feel the slight marks of grease on the pages, and the wrinkles forming in the spine as stresses changed. At some level, I became very aware of how I was damaging the book as I read it.
Come the evening, the kindle was charged, and the book safely stowed away for the journey back to its rightful shelf.
- 1 ↑ http://harcourtprogramming.co.uk/blogs/benh/2012/09/new-job/
- 2 ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commuting#History
- 3 ↑ http://www.shelfari.com/benharcourt
- 4 ↑ Although I did acquire a mini-Cthulhu plushie for the library...
- 5 ↑ I also haven't yet had the time and space to set up my mass charging systems.
- 6 ↑ Along with, I suspect the society's executive committee will be pleased to hear, almost all of my other stuff that was there.