Posted in Writing

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?