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The Kindle App: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the E-Book

In my post about book murderers, I confessed that I mostly read in print—and have a broken Kindle. I thought I could remain a literary Luddite forever.

Then the e-novellas by my favorite authors didn’t have a PDF option.

That’s when I decided to bite the digital bullet and download the Kindle app for the iPhone. At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy reading on my phone. But if I read blogs and Facebook posts on my phone, I’m sure I could survive reading Tall, Tatted and Tempting on there too.

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And I did. Oh yes, I did.

Now I enjoy having an e-book (or two, or three) on my phone. It’s great when I forget to transfer my paperbacks to my purse, or if I want that novella that’s unavailable in print. You probably won’t catch me reading Infinite Jest on there, though.

infinite jest
Or anywhere. It’s huge.

Priscilla Shay recently wrote a blog post titled “Are You a Book Murderer?” and I have to answer truthfully:

Yes. I am.

I crinkle pages. I crack spines. I dog-ear covers. The e-reader revolution may have saved my print editions—if I hadn’t broken my Kindle.

And you thought you could read your BDSM erotica in public and get away with it.

Water damage is one of my (many) accomplices. I often have a water bottle in my purse, and when I don’t turn the cap fully closed, the books I’m reading suffer a swift death by drowning. Water spills and rain damage have made my mass market editions of A Song of Ice and Fire expand so much they can’t all fit into their gift box.

No books were harmed in the taking of this photograph.

Borrowing a book—which I hardly ever do—fills me with dread. I keep them in safe places, gently turn pages, and return them in the same condition I received them. I may be a book murderer, but not with the paper-bound treasures of others.

I also admire the people who can keep their books alive and well. One of my best friends has a bookshelf that looks like the “New Releases” section in Barnes and Noble. She never cracks her spines or stains her pages. In high school, I would sit next to her in class and marvel how her paper folders would look brand new… in June. Mine would usually be in two pieces by October.

And yet, I still have to defend book murderers like myself. While what we do is perceived as careless and destructive, it can also be a crime of passion. When I read a book, I’ll take it with me everywhere: to my commute, to meals, and to bed. I can be so lost in the language that I almost miss my subway stop and rush out of the train car, shoving the book in my purse and bending the front cover. I can be so engrossed in the story that I won’t notice a drop of spaghetti sauce falling from my fork and staining the page. I can be so absorbed in the characters that I stay up past my bedtime, falling asleep next to it and leaving a cracked spine to wake up to in the morning.

My books have been murdered, but they have also been joyfully, exuberantly, and lovingly read.

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Full disclosure: Priscilla Shay is a dear friend of mine and a fabulous up-and-coming author. Check out her website and twitter. You know you want to.

#7- The Secret Life of Bees

Goddammit, Why is Paul Bettany still attractive, even when he plays a stupid racist fatherman?

What’s It About- Woops. Baby Lily kills mommy accidentally when she’s just 4 years old. Ten years later, Lily runs away from home and takes up house with Queen Latifah August Boatwright, a black beekeeper, and her two sisters. Racist events and bee metaphors ensue.

Why- Jada Pinkett Smith told me to.

Thoughts- While it’s perhaps not the most thought-out plot, there’s a lot to be learned from this novel. First, bees are pretty cool. Second, women are awesome and totes better than men. Get ’em drones outta here. Third, Google Black Madonna. Good times.

Movie ain’t bad either… ‘cept when dey talking all southern and quiet and my New York City ears are like, CAN YOU SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER PLEASE??!

I need that purple honey like NOW.

#33- The Perks of Being a Wallflower

What’s It About: After the suicide of his best friend, a high school freshman is taken in by a group of seniors and explores the usual teenage stuff- drugs, rock n’roll, love, dating, Rocky Horror Picture Show, panic attacks, good books, etc.

Why: It’s been on my radar for a while, but recently, when I’ve been speaking to high school kids about books, they all seem to love it. Figured it would help me remember what life was like almost a decade ago (jesus.)

Thoughts: I surprisingly found myself deeply invested in the characters and plot. It’s a really great example of how YA Lit can tackle complicated issues and open adolescent minds to novel styles of storytelling. The writing is honest and deceivingly simple. I think I’d feel confident that my future students would have a lot to pull from it.

Also, weird surprise ending is weird and surprising. Let’s leave it at that.

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