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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Kindle and giving up on books

I hate giving up on a book, particularly when I've got more than halfway. It seems such a weak thing to do. That's why I don't do it often.

I gave up on Vikram Seth's 1349-page "A Suitable Boy" because I wanted to be able to look forward to a time when I wasn't reading it. I abandoned Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" a chapter before the end because it was the only way I could express my contempt for its total lack of the basic suspense it was supposed to be providing. I have occasionally set a book aside with the intention of returning to it. Sometimes I have done so.

In truth the thing I really hate about stopping reading something is the conversation with the GLW.

"Oh, I thought you were reading Book A."

"Just thought I'd have a change."

"Oh." (Heavily loaded, hinting at disappointment at spouse's lack of stickability.)

Anyway, the Kindle changes all this. I used to think its weakness was that nobody knew what you were reading. I now realise that can be a strength. Since I bought it I've read eight books: Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom", Jay Z's "Decoded", Keith Richards' "Life", Max Hastings' "Finest Years", David Nicholls' "One Day", Ben Macintyre's "Operation Mincemeat", Rory Stewart's "The Places In Between"and Peter Doggett's "You Never Give Me Your Money". (I know this because my Kindle tells me.)

More interestingly, I've given up on a further two. Both "The Hare With Amber Eyes" by Edmund de Waal and "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy were books that were recommended to me by friends. If I'd been reading either of them in actual paperback - laying them on the bedside table at night, putting them in my pocket in the morning - I would probably have stuck with them. But they weren't so I didn't and I have no regrets about it at all.

They're not sitting there curling up with a look of mild reproof. They're still inside my machine. I might return to them at some point in the future, much as I have done with records that didn't make an impression at the time I got them but did many years later. We shall see.