Rekindling the Classics

I’ll start this off with a little perspective: I have a Kindle Paperwhite. I like it. I do not love it. I am neither an e-reader hater, or e-reader fanboy. I use my Kindle three or four times each week–about as often as I pick up a paper book. If I had to pick my favorite features of the Kindle, I would choose 1) I no longer have to guess which of seven books I will be in the mood to read at lunch, or in the mechanic’s waiting room; and 2) I no longer have to suffer through the damage that my suitcase or backpack does to my paperbacks.

I’ve had my Kindle for about two years now. And I’ll admit I purchased it with trepidation. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to like it. I like real books. I do not consider it an inconvenience that books take up half of one room of my house. I love that I have shelves full enough to browse for something to read. But still I took a chance.

Two years later, I am only a partial convert. My Kindle has it’s place. While it will never rival the luxurious, tactile sensation of reading a real book, it far surpasses paper books in convenience.

But I have found one area, where real books cannot hold a candle to my e-reader…

Classic Literature.

If some part of your soul just recoiled in horror at the juxtaposition of reading Dickens on an electronic screen, I completely understand. If your viscera trembles in anger at the mere notion, I sympathize. But, please hear me out.

Over the years I’ve accumulated a respectable collection of the classic works. I have at least half of Shakespeare’s plays, a large selection of European-Romantics–Dumas, Hugo, Cervantes–the philosophies, epics, and plays by the Greeks, and quite a few more.

The classics are easy to accumulate. Not only, because some very simple research will give you a good idea of the quality of the book–but also because they’re cheap. If you can bypass the faux-leatherbound editions and those editions heavily-annotated by scholars, they are notably cheaper than modern publications.

But on the e-reader they are even cheaper. Often free.

I don’t even go looking for them. But anytime I hear someone quote a classic…maybe one I’ve read and enjoyed–or maybe one I’ve always meant to read–a quick peek on Amazon usually turns up a free Kindle version. There are also many versions that charge a buck or two–sometimes these are worthless, only adding a different cover, but often these versions have been properly formatted for the Kindle, with chapters and such.

In the last two years I have loaded up my Kindle with many classics that I never got around to reading: Moby Dick, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, and many others that I’ve loved and now can carry around more easily.

In fact I have far more free content on my Kindle than paid content.

Who would have guessed an e-reader would help me go old school?

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9 thoughts on “Rekindling the Classics

  1. I have a Kindle of sorts. That is, I have a Samsung Galaxy tablet (10 inch) with 64 gig of memory. It has a Kindle App, a Play Book App and a Moon Reader Pro App. I said I would never buy a Kindle – you can’t snuggle up to a piece of hardware in bed. But I’ve changed my mind. My Galaxy Tab goes with me instead of my laptop when I’m travelling because it also has Polaris Office on it and I’m able to use Word to write a blog or a short story and then email it to my laptop no matter where I am. For the sheer convenience of being able to take a couple of dozen books with you – or maybe even a couple of hundred and having it take up no more space than a tabloid magazine just can’t be beaten. If Amazon doesn’t have the book I want at a reasonable price, Google Play Store usually does. I’m 65 and I love my techie gizmos 🙂

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  2. A bit off-topic, but I don’t understand why there’s a market for Kindles anymore. Why not an iPad with a Kindle app on it? Yes, they’re more expensive (though the mini is closer and non-Apple brands are closer), but they offer more. Is there anything on a Kindle you don’t get with the app?

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    1. Speaking from personal experience, the Kindle is a dedicated device for reading. So not only is it significantly cheaper, like 1/5 the price, but by only doing the one or two things that it does, I get:
      Much, much longer battery life
      No distractions from email
      No distractions from FB
      No distractions from work
      No distractions from games
      No tinkering with the network
      A better screen (regarding glare)
      And an extra $400 in my pocket because I don’t want the “extras” that the iPad comes with.

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      1. Yeah, I’ve reached a point where if I have a way to do other stuff, I start to feel guilty that I’m spending time reading. So eliminating distractions gives me plausible deniability that I should probably be doing something else. 😉

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  3. I read classics on my Kindle Touch, too. I’m never without something great to read.

    Jacqui raises a point about the apps, though. I switch among my various devices, reading in odd moments here and there. The sync of the Kindle apps means I always start where I left off, regardless of which device I was last using.

    Would I get another Kindle instead of an iPad or Galaxy Tab? Or a BB, iPhone, etc.? I guess we’ll see when the time comes.

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  4. Haven’t invested in an e-reader yet. Have bookshelves in every room and many more books stashed everywhere. I find it easy to move back and forth with paper, to mark favorite passages. That all public domain classics are available free on e-readers is a huge bonus. But aside from that, how do you collect autographed copies of books if they are not paper books? I treasure my small collection of autographed books.

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  5. I love my Kindle – I swore I never would, as I like the smell and feel of a real book in my hands. But I have found that I love it – it tucks into my purse, and instead of having one book (and ruining its cover by carrying it in my purse), I have hundreds.

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