I’ll admit it, I’ve been a brat about eReader. You know all the digital vs. printed book arguments–blah, blah, blah. But let me tell you my Kindle journey.
I’m stubborn. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ve probably seen this trait with sparkling clarity. If not, let me just compare my general strong-willed nature to that of a telemarketer with a limited-time, extended warranty offer on your vehicle. People have suggested it’s due to my red hair, or birth order. But I emphatically reject those generalizations. I think I just came into the world headstrong, and that’s the simple truth of it.
In some ways it’s served me well. Gods help anyone who tells me I’m not able, talented, skilled, or prepared enough to do ______ . I love, nay, I delight in proving people wrong. For example, I don’t tend to perform well with standardized testing–back in the day my ACT score wasn’t fabulous (It stank, actually). The college admission rep that I sat down with told me I wasn’t college material. I told her, in a four-letter word that began with ‘F’, that she was wrong. And she was. I graduated with a cumulative 3.97 GPA.
As you might imagine, I run into problems with this trait, and it’s amplified by my personality disorder. It can and has affected my personal relationships. It’s limited my professional opportunities and it’s kept me closed-minded on far more issues than I care to admit. As I’ve recognized this tendency, I’ve started challenging old assumptions, opinions, and beliefs. So, some of these exercises are really quite trivial, but I had to start somewhere.
First up was bologna. Bologna is one of those foods we ate a lot of growing up because it was cheap. Sometimes we ate it right out of the package and sometimes Mom would fry it for a special treat. I didn’t like it, but we ate what was served, the end. As soon as I left home the offensive cold cut never once made an appearance in my refrigerator.
Over Christmas someone randomly gave me a package of bologna. I didn’t want to offend them, so I took it planning to use it as dog treats. Then I got a wild hair and decided to try it. My husband was game, so I fried it. I added a nasty piece of American cheese for true authenticity, and served it on plain white bread. I couldn’t bring myself to put ketchup on it–I had to draw the line somewhere. The first couple of bites we tried to figure out what was happening. I ended up eating half before I tossed it in the trash. I felt like I gave it a solid effort, and I will now revert back to my willful avoidance. Because–gross.
Of Mice and Men
I don’t generally re-read books. There are a select few I return to, mostly classics, but my to-read list gets longer every year. But since I’m giving old things a do-over, I decided to try a couple of titles from the past. Up first was John Stienbecks’s, 20th century American classic, Of Mice and Men.
I was probably eating that bologna sandwich when I last read this novel. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it tells the story of two men, George and Lenny, who are looking for work during the Great Depression. Lenny is a large, sweet-tempered man who is developmentally delayed. George, his friend and caretaker, does his best to keep them both employed and Lenny out of the trouble he isn’t aware he is causing. The end, as most stories set in this time, is heartbreaking. (The 1992 film adaptation with John Malcovich and Gary Sinise is brilliant.)
I’ll try not to give the whole plot away (I’m really terrible with spoilers–I love them but I know most people don’t.) with my thoughts. The first time I came away feeling righteously indignant. There was no excuse, I thought, for the outcome. And I couldn’t understand why the WHOLE WORLD seemed to be sympathetic to the characters.
Now however, I sided with the whole world. I balled my eyes out at the conclusion. I’m not sure if age, my understanding of the human experience, Steinbeck’s skill, or what I ate for dinner that night altered my opinion–but something did. When I closed the book, I had to take a little bit of time and sit with it. The exercise made me wonder how many other books I’ve dismissed or perhaps unfairly judged in the past. It’s something I’ll keep in mind moving forward.
It’s nice to meet you, Kindle
So, here is why this die-hard, old school, printed book girl gave in.
I don’t talk about it much directly, but aside from blogging, I write. I’m currently revising my first novel which has been one heck of a ride so far. For the past year I’ve been learning the industry and doing my level best to become part of the larger writing community. That’s included building personal and local relationships as well as developing contacts on social media. I’ve learned that publishing isn’t a zero-sum game. Meaning, if one author succeeds the rest of us don’t lose. We can all ‘win’ at this writing game, so it makes sense to support and encourage each other.
I strive to be a good literary citizen and support other artists, but my local library doesn’t carry their books. Since many of these authors are self-published, or have their books available digitally, I can get them for pennies. (Also, Kindle versions of bestsellers are generally a fraction of the cost of their printed counterparts.) So, I decided to get a Kindle for the express purpose of reading my peers’ work that wouldn’t financially destroy me. It’s also a tool for me to determine if I want to buy a hardcopy. I love the idea that I can share some of them with my friends. And yes, the eReader fanatics are right, it is easy to stow away in my purse.
So, yessssss. The Kindle did finally work its way into my life. I wish I hadn’t been so obstinate for so many years, as I’m sure I’ve missed some valuable opportunities. I listen to a lot of audiobooks and have never considered them subpar, so I was really just being a punk. Trade copy paperbacks (Not hardcopy, how weird is that?) will always be my go-to. They will always have that smell and the flippyness. I’ll always break the spine and write in the margins (Because I’m a monster). But mediums evolve, and I probably should to.
Instead of trying something new, try something old and tell me about it!