Indoors

I Like My Kindle eBooks

I’ve been thinking about doing this post for months. Initially I contemplated giving it some Buzzfeed-style catchy title (17 Ways My Kindle Makes My Life Worth Living) but in the end I opted for simple, what-it-says-on-the-tin title. So here it is.

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I’ve mentioned books on this blog here and there, mostly either LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables or Agatha Christie, or, if it’s a Gloomscapes post, a dystopian novel. This post not strictly about books, though, it’s about their format. The reason? Well, eBooks need some love. I’m fed up with the stupid comments about how eBooks will never be as good as “real books” and how you can’t really get immersed in an eBook and real books, nothing beats the smell of real books, realbooks, reAAAAALBOOKS waah waah waah! So, here I want to list my reasons why I LIKE eBooks.

However, this is not a physical books versus eBooks article. It’s not a war and it’s actually possible to like both. It’s an eBook appreciation piece—nothing more, nothing less.

Before I start, Disclaimer 1: I’m going to talk about Kindle eBooks, because that is the format I’m familiar with. Most of the main points should apply to other brands, but some of them may not.

Disclaimer 2: I do not work for Amazon and this post is not endorsed by Amazon.

kindle coffee cake

  • eReaders are compact – in a device the size of a paperback, you can store 1000s of books and carry them around with you wherever you go.
  • Speed – eBooks take seconds to download. Now this may sound lazy, I can hear those “instant gratification” comments already. But it’s more than that. People who may not have time to go to bookstores due to work and family commitments, people who live in remote locations with no bookstore in a reasonable distance, people who have disabilities that make going to a bookstore a difficult task.
  • RealBooks look better on the shelf!” they say. I’m sure that’s very nice, but… what if you don’t have a bookshelf? We live in hard times. Not everyone can afford to buy big houses with large rooms where you can dedicate multiple walls to bookshelves. A lot of people rent, a lot of people can only buy small abodes with little to no space for bookshelves. And if you’re still far from being settled down and know you’ll have to move several times, moving physical books just adds to your load.
  • In-built dictionary. May not seem that important, but if you’re not a native English speaker, it sure is useful. Highlight a word and a definition appears. Yes, yes, you can look up the word in a physical dictionary but you don’t always have one by hand. Or you’re reading on your lunch break at work, on a train or bus.

kindle dictionary

  • Free classics/public domain books. Books that are in public domain are available for free in multiple formats. Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson are just few examples. This is fantastic for lovers and students of classic literature, of course, and it also happens to be my favourite point, because this is how I was able to finally access all the LM Montgomery books after I moved to UK. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any of LM’s books in shops and libraries (I read somewhere that her books, or at least the Anne series, have never been out of print. I’ve never seen them in print!*) I still remember the feeling of absolute joy when I discovered her workon Gutenberg. Through a link on Wikipedia, no less. I downloaded all of them one by one and read them on my laptop, as this was before e-readers became mainstream. I was so, soooo happy to finally read all of LM Montgomery’s books in English! I can’t describe it to you how happy I was. (I soon found out how terribly bad the translations into my language were, but that’s another topic).
  • Highlights and notes – highlight passages and make notes as you want, without damaging the book. Because Goodreads is owned by Amazon, your Kindle notes and highlights will be saved there and you can choose to keep them private or make them public. Here are mine. Also, if you purchase a Kindle book on Amazon, you can highlight and share directly to Twitter or Facebook.
  • No need for bookmarks. The book stays where you left it. Of course, if you love bookmarks because they are art, that’s great. This is more for those people that always lose them and then have to resort to shoelaces, bus tickets, supermarket receipts and the like.
  • Accessibility. Size of font can be changed, perfect for people with visual impairment. On a different level, e-readers are also very light. I remember someone commenting on a Goodreads post that they appreciated Kindle when they broke both their wrists and books became too heavy to hold.
kindle largefont
Largest possible font
  • Prevent loss of books by backing them in a cloud. Books get lost. You move from home, to a different city, or a different country, can’t take your books with you. You settle in the new city/country, go back home to get your books, but those are nowhere to be found, because your family lost them and didn’t tell you and instead let you search desperately everywhere from floor to ceiling for them, not helping you search for them, repeating that they have no idea where those books could be, that they were right there last year. Until you realise that the books are gone forever and they won’t be so easy to obtain again because they are out of print. No such problems with eBooks. Even if some wicked person gets hold of your e-reader and deletes every book you have stored on it. I don’t know about other brands but with Amazon Kindle you keep all your purchases in your cloud; if this is not the case with whichever product you’re using, please make sure you back your eBooks up. This goes for all the digital content.
  • eBooks can’t be lent. “Can I borrow that book you talked about?” “No, it’s an eBook.” May sound mean, but come on, how many books have you lent to people, only for them to never be returned to you? Or returned in a terrible shape? EBooks beautifully eradicate that issue. Get your own copy, you thief.
  • Environment. No paper, no cutting of trees.
  • What about libraries? You love libraries, right? Let me tell you that they are not dying, because many of them offer eBook lending too.
  • Not sure if you want the world to know what you’re reading? No worries, nobody can see the cover, nobody will know.
  • Not books, but since we’re talking Kindle, you can get newspaper and magazine subscriptions in this format. And because they’re digital, they won’t clutter your space—and save the trees.
  • Last but not least, if you’re worried about staring at yet another screen, let me reassure you that eReaders don’t strain your eyes. It’s just like reading paper.

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Of course I realise eBooks also have downsides–I’m not an uncritical fanatic. Like, you can’t have a digital book signed by the author, should you ever meet them. And browsing a bookstore is a legitimate way to spend your Saturday. And not all the titles are available in this format, which is unfortunate. I do hope more and more books will be released as eBooks as time goes by. Remember my Isaac Asimov post? Well, his Foundation series, which then was not available in digital form, has since become available in digital form!

kindle asimov foundation

So, what do you think, readers of WordPress and beyond? How do you consume literature? What about Audiobooks–are they your favourite format? Tell me in the comments!

Links:

Gutenberg

Open Culture

100 Legal Sites to Download Literature

Books in this post are: Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale (photoshoot with tulips), Agatha Christie’s Autobiography (dictionary shot), LM Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables (large font), Sally Baumont’s Rebecca’s Tale (coffee shop pic) and finally, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation.

*To clarify, I found an old copy Anne of Green Gables in a charity shop. It’s a paperback from 1972 and barely holds together, with help of a lot of sellotape. So the point still stands because it’s an old edition, which you can’t find in shops anymore. I bought it after I already had the digital versions from Gutenberg. I’ve never seen any of the other Anne books, or any other LM Montgomery books, in a physical form.

Gloomscapes

Gloomscapes #25

Welcome to Number Twenty-Five of Gloomscapes. This will be the last post for a while, as I’m taking a break from the series, to gather some new material and ideas for the future.

And it couldn’t be any other way than ending it with the very best–The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

nolite te bastardes carborundorum

And there it was, in tiny writing, quite fresh it seemed, scratched with a pin or maybe just a fingernail, in the corner where the darkest shadow fell: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

#KeepOnGloomin’

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Outdoors

Does This Tree Look Like Yggdrasil?

Let me just start with saying I know very little of Norse mythology and what I do know comes from either Marvel Cinematic Universe or the TV show Vikings. But at least I’m aware that Yggdrasil is a mythical tree that connects the different realms, or worlds.

So obviously I don’t walk around looking for trees that look like Yggdrasil. I do, however, photograph trees and it was this one that reminded me of something.

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This tree grows in Abney Hall Park. As I said in before, Agatha Christie used to spend time there, visiting her sister and brother-in-law. Now, on first sight, the Queen of Crime doesn’t appear to have much in common with Norse mythology, but bear with me.

This a page from the novel The Hollow. (no spoilers ahead)

agathachristie the hollow

In this scene, Henrietta is reminiscing about a country house, Ainswick, where she used to stay during school holidays. She’s talking to her second cousin Edward, who is now the owner of Ainswick. And she remembers there was a big oak tree that she named Ygdrasil!

When first reading The Hollow, it was actually the very first time I have come across the name Yggdrasil, though I had no idea what it was. I thought Agatha made the word up–I suppose she presumed her readers would know–but for some reason the name stuck in my memory. Until I finally learnt what Yggdrasil was and I was like, ooooh, so that’s why Agatha Christie named that tree in The Hollow that!

It’s so sad that the tree in the book was struck by lightning. [Insert teary emoji. Or Chris Hemsworth.]

thor
Look what you’ve done now!

So, if Agatha Christie drew inspiration for her books from Abney Park, could she have been thinking of this very tree?

yggdrasil lookalike1

Like, it looks pretty old. It was probably there when she was there. I know when I saw it I immediately thought of Henrietta in The Hollow.

Of course, there are millions of trees like this all over the world and Agatha travelled a lot and it may not have been an actual tree that inspired her, she just needed a sentimental moment between Henrietta and Edward. I realise all of that. It’s fun to think about though.

vikings little bjorn
Little Bjorn from Vikings is not having it

 

Okay, Bjorn, I just said it looks like Yggdrasil, not that it is Yggdrasil.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments!

One more thing…

The mythical Yggdrasil was an ash tree, the tree in Agatha Christie book was an oak. I don’t know, botany not being my subject, what kind of tree the one in my photos is. If you do, I would be much thankful if you could let me know in the comments box.

Skol! *drinks water

 

 

 

Gloomscapes, Outdoors

Gloomscapes #23

Another Sunday, another Gloomscapes post.

More brutalistic architecture today; this time a canteen of an office building. I was thinking of the canteen in George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth in 1984, though that one was underground.

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The lunch queue jerked slowly forward. The room was already very full and deafeningly noisy. From the grille at the counter the steam of stew came pouring forth, with a sour metallic smell which did not quite overcome the fumes of Victory Gin.

brutalistic canteen1

This was also the place where Winston and Julia arranged their first date, over spoonfuls of stew.

#KeepOnGloomin’

 

Gloomscapes, Outdoors

Gloomscapes #20

Today, I’m pleased to present number Twenty in my Gloomscapes series.

To mark this occasion, I have decided for something less gloomy, maybe even a bit fun–and a dialogue from my favourite YA dystopian series.

ferris wheel beach

“Think about it. People used to ride that thing. For fun,” says Will, shaking his head.

“They must have been Dauntless,” I say.

“Yeah, but a lame version of Dauntless. “Christina laughs. “A Dauntless Ferris wheel wouldn’t have cars. You would just hang on tight with your hands, and good luck to you.”

We walk down the side of the pier. All the buildings on my left are empty, their signs torn down and their windows closed, but it is a clean kind of emptiness. Whoever left these places left them by choice and at their leisure. Some places in the city are not like that.

~Veronica Roth, Divergent

#KeepOnGloomin’

The world in the Divergent series is a city divided into five factions. The above mentioned Dauntless are one them. They’re the brave ones; Abnegation are the selfless, Candor the honest, Erudite the ones that value knowledge and Amity are the hippies. Then there are the factionless, who don’t fit into any faction and live on the fringes of the society. I’m a definite Erudite myself, though I think the Dauntless are the coolest ones.

Gloomscapes, Outdoors

Gloomscapes #12

So here it is, Number 12 in Gloomscapes series, which means now I have a dozen worth of posts, hopefully worth a bit more than a dime.

And it wouldn’t be it without some brutalistic architecture!

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Ministry of Truth, his place of work, towered vast and white above the grimy landscape.

~George Orwell, 1984

brutalistic building2

#KeepOnGloomin’

Miscellaneous

Share Your World – 15 May 2017

This week’s Share your World is basically me talking about things I like.

How many languages do you you speak?

My native language, Slovak, and English. At school I did German as well as English and later I learned a bit of Spanish but I forgot a lot as, living in UK, I don’t have the need to use any other lingo. I’ve always liked languages, who knows maybe one day I’ll speak another one fluently. Though nowadays knowing a different kind of language would be more beneficial–a programming language.

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Image credit: www.expatica.com

What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

I’m reading Robot Visions, a short story collection by Isaac Asimov. I’ve blogged about Asimov before, he’s one of my favourite authors.

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I’m watching a few things. American Gods on Amazon Prime, The 100 on TV and I just started Narcos on Netflix. I must mention the last series I finished watching and enjoyed immensely was Parks and Recreation. I think it must have been one of the best things on TV; funny as hell with a meaning behind it and characters that I now miss like old friends.

I’m not listening to anything in particular because my taste in music is all over the place at the moment. I’ve been listening to some Beatles as I recently visited the museum in Liverpool but otherwise I mainly listen to new-ish stuff. Though last week I searched for Ode to Joy by Beethoven on my Amazon Prime Music app and listened to every version they had. I was overjoyed about the result of the French election and Ode to Joy is an EU anthem and I’m basically Euro-trash and I’m not sorry about it.

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My eating habits have much improved from the past, but I still eat too much junk food and chocolate. Also it turned out I had high cholesterol so I swapped my breakfast bacon sandwich for avocado on toast.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

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What is your favourite time of day?

Evening and night. I’m a night owl.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

What am I grateful for from last week? I guess Eurovision was alright. And you know, just being alive and healthy and all that. And the world looking more green.

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There’s always weekend to look forward to if nothing else. And some pictures to take!

Indoors

A Good Match

In this week’s photo challenge post, Ben posts a photograph of a donut, a cup of coffee and a glass of sparkling water, but tells us not to limit ourselves to edible stuff–but this is exactly what I’m going to do, even though I don’t normally blog about food or post pictures of food.

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The colours are a good match too

Let me introduce you to my favourite breakfast. Bacon sandwich + a cup of black coffee = heaven. For me bacon sandwich is the second best thing in the world (the first is pizza). But there is more to this shot.

We hear of things typically British and we hear of things typically Continental European. Nothing more essentially British than a bacon sandwich, I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, coffee is continental, whereas the Brits like their tea.

Best of both worlds then. Imagine if referendums never existed, we could have breakfast instead of Brexit. Sigh.

Speaking of which…

poirot-hastings

A very Belgian private detective with his very British sidekick.

A Good Match