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Friday, 27 April 2012

On why a Kindle inspired me to start reading

As a child I was an avid reader from Reception Class up until I was 19, my repertoire consisted of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Goosebumps, Beatrix Potter, Jack London, Dick King Smith along with Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on. From the age of ten my reading habits changed drastically when I discovered Stephen King's "IT" a massive book for a ten year old to read and I think it took my 3 or four months to complete. I remember feeling unimpressed with the book because the film had terrified me so much I slept with the light on for week. Nevertheless, IT encouraged me to explore Stephen King novels and my parents and their friends lent me copies of his novels. I read Point Horror of which I remember my favourite being the Vampire's Love series.

In my teens my tastes in books stayed somewhat the same. I remember having a deep hatred for classic novels such as Charles Dickens (which I still loathe) because reading them in school had utterly ruined them and taken away their magic. I branched out to autobiographical's in particular Dave Pelzer which I found the overwhelming sympathy by the masses for Pelzer to be crass and pathetic. I think the mos enjoyable autobiographical novel during my teens were the Frank McCourt books "Angela's Ashes" and "Tis" perhaps because I love reading books that encompass the era in which my grandmother was a child, makes me feel close to her and makes her own struggles more real rather than now humourous stories. But mainly my tastes stayed in horror and folklore discovering Anne Rice at 17.

I'd spend my weekends perusing Waterstones and Occult shops looking for new things to try (in which I found Wicca and purchased my first books "Witchcraft - Theory and Practice by Ly De Angeles" and "A Witches Bible by Janet and Stuart Farrar" - which were grossly wrong choices).
By the time I was 22 I hadn't read a book for pleasure in two years. It was an absolute tragedy. I was devastated that I'd turned my back on one of life's greatest pleasures. I just didn't make the time for reading anymore and I placed blame on working and working towards a degree.

For my first wedding anniversary Mr Frugal Witch bought me a copy of the Time Traveller's Wife because at the time I was so high on my role as a new wife that I actively sought wife related things (articles, TV programmes, etc) just to heighten my feelings. The Time Traveller's Wife really captured me. I laughed, I cried, I felt sorry for Clare Abshire.... And the book really stirred my desire to read again. But, life kinda got in the way again and money was always spent elsewhere leaving my reading time was designated to the Internet and I was fine with that because I was still reading. It wasn't like I flat out refused to read.

When the Kindle 2 adverts aired. I scoffed at it. "IT WILL NEVER REPLACE THE FEEL AND SMELL OF A NEW BOOK" "WHAT HAPPENS IF IT BREAKS? ALL YOUR BOOKS ARE GONE AND YOU WILL BE STUCK AND YOU WILL BE ANGRY RAWR". Looking back, these statements can be applied to film vs digital photography of which I believe there is a place for both (I own and regularly use both formats).

One Dreary April weekend in 2011, Mr Frugal Witch arrived home from a day of shopping in Exeter.
 "I have a present for you, and you're going to hate it" Said he, heavy hearted handing me a shopping bag. I opened it and there inside the bag was a box marked Amazon.co.uk. Mr Frugal Witch states that the look I gave him in that moment was as if he'd given me a bag of snails (FYI Snails make me wretch and feel disgust can't even dine in French Restaurants).
 "You can take this right back! I DO NOT WANT!" I wailed like a banshee.
Mr Frugal Witch, clearly loving my over reaction to the situation pushed further
"It was a free gift with my phone contract, I don't want it and I thought you'd appreciate it" unable to stifle his laughter "If you don't want it, just put it on eBay and buy some clothes or make up".

Before I could stop myself, I'd set up a Kindle Account and downloaded public domain books for free.

"This Kindle store is shit! All the eBooks are the price of hardbacks some are even dearer!"
"Put it on eBay, my darling waifu"

Many weeks later and the Kindle still wasn't listed on eBay, I'd read the Iliad, re-read Othello, enjoyed Austen and loved the Bronte sisters but I wanted more recent books. So I went on Amazon.co.uk and had a heart attack. £16 for a bestseller in eBook form. Are you mad?! Are you crazy, Amazon?

 Do you know what I did? I went to the Piratebay.org and downloaded 2,000 books which included Charles Bukowski, Max Brooks, Charlaine Harris, Naomi Kramer, H.P. Lovecraft, Alfred Hitchcock, Alan Ball, Sophie Kinsella, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and a HOARD of paranormal novels, erotica (which is my current favourite genre and NOBODY would ever guess!), Neil Gaiman and Philip. K Dick which I am LOVING "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep".

Okay, so downloading eBooks is an ethical and moral issue, Authors suffer financial losses, the literary world collapses like the music world. But, a lot of authors are putting their books online for free ust to get an audience plus, paper readers VASTLY OUTWEIGH eBook readers and in all honesty why should we be forced to pay £16 for an eBook? It's robbery and benefits nobody but Amazon.co.uk.

In the past year, I've read 100 books. I am reading at every opportunity. I'm halfway through "Claiming Beauty" by Ann Rice and you know what? I am absolutely thankful to the Kindle in relighting my desire to read (see what I did there?). AND, if there is a book I need such as an Occult Book or a book by a favourite author, I will ALWAYS buy it because I like to support authors who broaden my knowledge. It's a win-win situation


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