The Top Ten Things I Can’t Do with My Kindle
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I love my Kindle. I do. I love its white frame and its little screen. I love the way I can make the font bigger and bigger, so that I can pretend I no longer need trifocals. I love the way it brings me books in the
middle of the night, when I need them the most.
But my Kindle has drawbacks. I learned this when I read the instruction manual, which warned me about all kinds of things, like battery life and how to preserve my internet connection.
The top ten things I cannot do with my Kindle—in no particular order—are:
1) I cannot throw my Kindle across the room like I threw the paperback edition of Volume 1 of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant across
the room when I got to the rape scene.
Or if I did throw my Kindle across the room, I can guarantee that my
husband would not calmly say to me, “Now go pick that up and keep reading. He pays for his crime,” the way my ex-husband
did oh so long ago. My husband—my
current (and best) husband—would say, “What did you do? That’s an expensive piece of equipment!”
No amount of outrage over content would justify destroying expensive electronics.
2) I cannot leave the Kindle in the bathroom. Well, I suppose I could, but considering how the stack of magazines looks by week’s end—all wrinkled and water-damaged (I
can’t count how many times Vanity Fair unwraps
itself and falls into the can [and no, that’s not my fault! Vanity Fair’s content does not outrage
me].)—I can only imagine how long it would take (an afternoon?) before the
Kindle has shorted out.
3) I cannot bend the Kindle to annoy my husband. My husband, the great collector, cringes when I bend the spine of my paperbacks. I do so to assert ownership. He cannot wrap my paperbacks in a pristine
bag and place them on a shelf. My
paperbacks look used because they are
4) I cannot use my Kindle to spy on other people. The Lee Child paperback I found in Robert’s Bookshop near my home in Lincoln City, Oregon, had a United
Airlines ticket stub wedged into page 52.
I found nothing egregious about page 52.
I was more concerned with how the paperback made its way to the Oregon
Coast, two hours from any major airport.
Besides, the woman whose name was on that ticket stub had flown from
Redmond, Washington, to Stockton, California, going right over Oregon. How did that book get here?
No one will place a ticket stub as a bookmark in a Kindle. No one will leave a foodstained fingerprint on page 105 (chocolate? or some kind of sauce? Impossible to tell). No one will explore the mysteries of the
turned down page (why stop there? There are no section breaks).
Books have secrets. The Kindle has none.
5) I cannot use my Kindle to impress people with my library unless I shove the Home page in their face. No one waiting for me to put on my jacket or waiting in the living room for Thanksgiving dinner will browse the books stored
in my Kindle like they browse the books shelved next to the piano.
No one will see my defiant collection of mystery, romance, and science fiction hardcovers, a reaction to my creative writing professor’s living room shelves, filled with James Joyce and Ernest
Hemingway and William Faulkner—while the books my creative writing professor
actually read (his collection of Ace doubles and other classic science fiction
novels) were crammed on the narrow bookshelves of his bedroom (and no, I didn’t
discover them there; Kevin J. Anderson, who was one of my classmates, did while
browsing (snooping) at a party).
6) I cannot judge a book by its cover on the Kindle. Yes, I know, the cover appears on the order page, but not all of the book’s previous covers. If I want Stephen King’s Carrie, I can’t chose between the garish first paperback cover
(which I bought back in the mid-1970s), or the Sissy Spacek covered in pig’s
blood cover, or the tasteful 1980s cover that just said KING and CARRIE in
large letters (Stephen in smaller ones).
I am stuck with the cover du jour, which may not be the cover that I
like the most, not that it matters, since I’ll only see the cover when I order
7) I cannot read the last page first. Oh, I suppose I could. I can hit the advance button or skip ahead or actually do a “find” to get to the last page.
But if a baby gets kidnapped on page one of the murder mystery, I can’t
flip to the last page to see if the baby gets a happy ending before I buy the
book. The free sample only gives me selected pages, not the necessary pages.
8) I cannot build a fortress of Kindles. I simply can’t afford it. But when I was a child, growing up in a particularly loud, unhappy home, I could build a fortress of books. I would sit behind my fortress and read. My literary (loud, unhappy) parents would
think I was doing something useful. In
these tense times, I like my fortress of books.
Only now I sit behind them and read my Kindle.
9) I cannot find mysterious old books on my Kindle. My husband and I occasionally buy book collections (me for the research materials; him for the
collectable value—and no, what is his is not mine in this instance, since I
write in books [and yes, I can do that on my Kindle]). As I was reshelving, just today, I found A History of the World War. The title intrigued me. The book, written in 1919, is a history of
the only world war that the world had had thus far. I’m convinced this book is not available for
download on my Kindle.
10) I cannot loan my Kindle to friends. Well, I suppose I can, but my friends tend to take their books to restaurants where they spill water on them
or read the books in the bathtub (water again) or leave chocolate-stained
fingerprints on page 105 (which I will never see since I rarely reread
books). Besides, I don’t want to be
without my Kindle for even a day.
Because as I said, my Kindle gives me books in the middle of the night when I need them the most. My Kindle carries an entire library with me on an airplane without ruining my husband’s back (did I tell you he’s the best
husband ever?). My Kindle lets me read newspapers without
getting ink all over my fingers.
I can list the top ten things I can do with my Kindle, but so many people have already covered that. And they never once mentioned my Kindle’s drawbacks.
So I figured I would.
“The Top Ten Things I Can’t Do with My Kindle” copyright © 2009 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
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