Hey Sailor. Goin' My Way?

With the holidays firmly behind us, I’m sure we’ve all settled back into our normal routine: Russian roulette in the morning and cheap whiskey in the evenings. If you’re anywhere near as materialistic as I am, you’ve also probably begun to make surreptitious plans to rid yourself of unwanted gifts from your loved ones. Jewelry and gadgetry alike have been sorted into the “Keep” and “Discard” piles, assuming you weren’t already lined up at the mall on December 26th (or 10th for our Jewish brothers and sisters) trying to wring store credit out of that useless Wii-Fit. With the annual Yule-tide exchange of gifts, I had one immense surprise from a product that sold like wildfire over the holidays: The Kindle. I know I’m the last reviewer on the planet to get on this bandwagon, but I feel it still requires note.

I was highly resistive to The Kindle, or any digital reader for that matter, due to a very embarrassing sort of bigotry; I am a book supremacist. I am attached to my computer and my Smartphone in a way I will never attach to a human being. I get jittery when I am away from them for any extended period and begin to sit in my bay window, watching the sunset, and writing poetic lamentations about the depth and breadth of my melancholy any time they are gone. However, I do not like to read on either of them. I grew up on books and I find them infinitely more soulful, more humanistic.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t like deforestation and support every kind of digital media available. Believe me, as soon as they start offering cybernetic implants, I will be the first cat on the block to have a jack sticking ostentatiously out of my temple, an affront to God and a living abomination of both nature and technology. I would happily upload my consciousness into a mainframe rather than having to endure the dubious pleasures of my meat sack existence. However, so long as I am stuck with only that which was bestowed upon me by birth, I prefer to do my reading out of a book.

Books have a smell, a texture, a tactile existence that makes reading one an experience. It gratifies me in a way that scrolling down as I read off a screen has never been able to. It is the same satisfaction that I get from typing. No matter how advanced voice recognition software becomes, I prefer to do my writing with my hands. I have enough creepy conversations with my computer as it is. I don’t think I want it to actually be able to comprehend what it is I am saying to it.

It was this tactile obsession and nostalgic attachment to books that kept me from buying a Kindle as soon as they hit the market. I don’t read on my iPad or my BlackBerry, so I damn sure wasn’t going to drop the $139 on a tablet that was just for reading.

Oh, how young and foolish I was.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

My Kindle – which will need to be named very soon – sat for days in my mental “Discard” pile. I viewed it as an interloper, trying to take my precious books from me. What a damnable, archaic child I was being. I saw those that used the Kindle (including my technologically backwards mother) as dilettantes, not worthy of the cigarette and blindfold given to the condemned prior to execution. Indeed, I thought they were barely worth the cost of the bullet. Finally, after much insistence from those around me, I plugged the infernal device into my computer and my world, dear readers, was effectively rocked.

It actually manages to capture the feeling of a book. It has the perfect heft to it, dense without being weighty. The little buttons that are used to change pages seem to titillate the same part of my brain as turning a page. Its interface is elegant simplicity. It makes the rather simple iPad seem like a clunky and inaccurate tool. It feels intuitive, with the menu items placed precisely where I would have put them without having to dig through sub-menus, or functionality sacrificed in place of aesthetics. It sports a tactile QWERTY keyboard rather than a touch screen (another baleful creation that I wish to die horribly…in a fire) and has a seamless interface with every other device in my home. It saves any notes I want to make on it, has easy cut, paste, and highlight features for those times when I really want to rip someone else’s work off in order to impress a date with my witticism.

The long and short of it is that if the people in your life didn’t get you a Kindle for whatever gift exchange holiday you celebrate, they don’t love you. Normally I don’t like to decry love as being an emotion that can be expressed materially, but in this case, it is. If you are still stuck retrieving books from the library and having to turn pages, your hands too ink-stained to wipe the tears from your lonesome eyes, then you should just divorce the filthy bastards in your life. There is no two ways about it.