Thursday, April 29, 2010

Travels With My Kindle

My husband and I spend 2 weeks in the Caribbean every spring, and while I don't unplug completely I do spend the bulk of my time unwinding. This usually takes the form of sitting by (and often in) the pool with a book. My undergraduate degree is in English Lit, so I've always been an avid reader. But between a life spent in front of a computer and writing assignments (first for Training Magazine, now for Learning Solutions) requiring business-related reading, I find I have little time in my "real life" for novels and other non-work related books. This annual trip is my chance to catch up.

In years past I've usually brought 14 books, a heavy and now, with fees for checked bags, an expensive proposition. I've always liked my Kindle and find it great for business trips, but had some concerns about taking it out in bright sunlight & heat/reading in the pool/keeping it safe at a resort. But this year I decided to give it a try on the long vacation, with great results:
1. I am taking it into the pool in a ziploc bag, which has worked very well. Lesson learned: Some ziploc bags have writing/white label on one side, making them half as useful for reading purposes, and I have found that ziploc bags, after being handled for a day or so, start showing their age by wrinkling. This makes it harder to read through them, so if you plan to try it, bring backup bags.
2. The size, with "next page" buttons on either side of the screen,is a perfect fit for my hands, and I can hold the device and turn pages with one hand. This is great for keeping the Kindle from getting wet.
3. The no-glare screen is fabulous in bright sunlight!
4. No running out of books. One year I didn't like several of the 14 I brought and was just miserable: There's no bookstore here, so except for souvenir-shop titles I was out of luck. (I agree with Stephen King on this: The lending library in hell is filled with nothing but Danielle Steele and Chicken Soup titles.)

I realize that electronics are electronic, and disaster could lurk around every corner. Once the Kindle is dropped, or stepped on by the pool, or gets wet, or something, it could stop working altogether, whereas a paper book, unless set on fire, will probably always be there. Overall, though? Kindle is a fabulous travel companion. I've resisted the idea of so many devices, advocating for consolidation into one, but now am rethinking that. I've been eyeing the iPad, but can't foresee ever taking it by or in the pool, so kind of hope the predictions that iPad will kill Kindle and other reading devices are wrong. (Although to compete I do think Amazon will need to rethink Kindle pricing.) In this instance, having another machine (bigger than my iPhone, less cumbersome than my netbook, smaller than the iPad) did fulfull a need.

My favorite titles so far this trip? Cutting for Stone (hands-down), Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and Fool.

What are you reading?