Sunday, September 26, 2010


I forgot to provide an update about my Amazon Kindle. It is going well. I had a bit of a hiccup when it kept on crashing, but I think that was because I was expecting it to be as fast as a computer. It isn't. It isn't slow though, just requires some adjusting too. Anyway, I finished Sherlock Holmes and really enjoyed it, part from the last story, which was just a bit too gruesome! Now I am reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and I am really enjoying that one too. I can see that you might be wondering when I am doing my PhD reading. I have a system. My outgoing train journey to work is when I do this reading because my mind is fresher. It works well. I can highlight and make notes very easily and then I can type these up at the weekend. My home journey is when I do my pleasure reading with my Kindle, and then when I am at home, I read my paperbacks. It is all working out well.

The Help

As you know, when I do 3 for 2 at Waterstones, I usually pick at least one new author. This time was no exception. I bought two books by favourite authors and then I picked up The Help, a first novel by Kathryn Stockett. The Sunday Times describes it as 'The other side of Gone with the Wind - and just as unputdownable.' I haven't read Gone with the Wind, but The Help was definitely unputdownable. It was superb. I was unsure whether I would enjoy it because the subject matter is about the working and private lives of Black maids in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, and in particular about their relationships with their white bosses. I was wary because the book is written by a white woman, so I wondered how realistic it would be. But her acknowledgements, at the end of the book, gave more details of her background and how she attained her knowledge and that made the story more believable. It was good to read it after reading the whole book. The book itself, is a narrative, told by three people - two black maids and one of the white children, now grown-up. In places it is hard to read, but not gratuitously so, and it is also warm and surprising, and so tender. It is a beautiful book and one that I cannot recommend enough.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Victorian literature and Kindle

Well, first of all, I have to talk about the latest paperback book I have read. Cousin Phillis and Other Stories is by Elizabeth Gaskell, a Victorian novelist. I have read Cranford which I really enjoyed, and this one too, was very enjoyable. It is a book of short stories, and as with Ms Gaskell's other books, the females, although feminine, enjoy strong roles and characters. The emotions throughout all the stories are so strong and pure, you cannot help believing in love and propriety, and wondering how much simpler life was then, with the social rules in place. As a bonus with this book, there is a fantastic chronology of the author's life, mapped against historical and cultural events at that time. It really put things into context and it was so interesting seeing how she worked alongside Charles Dickens and other famous authors of the time. Elizabeth Gaskell brings me onto the second part of my post. I am wondering if I have sold out. I love books, with a passion, but I have bought myself a Kindle. There is a good reason for this. I am doing a PhD, and I need to do lots of reading. I don't have a printer, and yes, I could get one, but I would prefer not to print out loads of papers. Initially, I thought I would read the papers on my netbook. However, on the train, when I do all my reading, I rarely get a seat, so the netbook idea doesn't work. So, I am experimenting with Amazon's Kindle, and it is working out quite well. I don't know if it is as sophisticated as the Sony eReader, but it is cheaper and it does everything I need it to. Also, when you turn it off, it displays beautiful images from old books and of famous authors. I love that. It is very pretty. I bought the wifi version. I did have a few blips at the start, but I have worked out my system now. Rather than transferring books via wireless from Amazon to Kindle, I download them to my netbook and then transfer them via the USB cable. This is much quicker. Saying that, I did buy a book from the Kindle store and it was delivered within seconds. I can store PDFs of the papers, and make notes, even while standing up. The other thing which I have discovered to my detriment, as it is distracting me from my reading, is that you can download more than 4,500 electronic books for free, from Kindle alone! So, I have downloaded Sherlock Holmes, and I am allowing myself some time for pleasure-reading, and what a pleasure Sherlock Holmes is! I love the characters and all the mysteries, but I cannot help comparing Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to Monsieur Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings. The similarities are just all too strong, with Monsieur Poirot and his "little grey cells" and Mr Holmes with his observations and deductions. How can two people come up with so many mysteries!