Back in Blighty

Happy May Day! A list of some reading since the last post.

1. Émile Zola, L’Assammoir (1877); 2. David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men  (1999); 3. William Dalrymple, City of Djinns (1994); 4. Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies (2008); 5. Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House (1879); 6. Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (2002)

I’m reading DWF’s Infinite Jest at the moment. I have a feeling I’ll be reading it for weeks to come. My reading habits have been rather revolutionised by the arrival of Kindle in my life though! I’d resisted for so long the idea of replacing, or rather abandoning, the tangible book, and that loss of tangibility was even more sad because not only was I going to lose the literal act of page-turning but, tragically, the front covers I so enjoy. How to superficially judge books from now on?! By their titles? Authors’ names?? E-formatting????

But, after all that fretting, and as is the way with most kinds of fretting, the switch-over was really quite painless. I bought mine just before I went off to India for almost 4 months on a research trip. I didn’t want to lug books all the way there and feel obliged to offload them, and, while India is effervescing with bookshops of every description in the most unlikely of places and selling the most impossibly diverse (and cheap!) reading material, nor did I want to buy lots there that I had to negotiate through baggage weight limitations on the way back. Add to that the fact that I was carrying around work materials – a laptop that’s 4 years old and therefore, according to the mysterious and yet apparently very precise dog years that technology ages by, a dinosaur from a bygone, supersize era (seriously, it’s a Macbook from c. 2008 – one of those white ones they don’t even manufacture anymore; it’s taken on the feel of vintage-cool already), Urdu textbooks, notes, photocopies and other assorted paraphernalia – and pretty soon the idea of a compact portable library seemed like a veritable godsend.

4 months on, I can truly say that my relationship with it was not only kindled successfully but the fire continues to burn strong (sorry). I can’t imagine leaving the house without it. Didn’t I always measure my reading progress in percentages? No? In fact, my Kindle has become my biggest vice in a strange sort of way, like a sugary treat used to get me through hours of less appealing tasks. Whatever works, right? And without the ever-portable Kindle how would Infinite Jest even stand a chance of being finished this side of 2013… I still read books in ‘real’ formats of course, but sometimes find myself reflexively reaching for buttons on the page that just don’t exist. Awkward.


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