Monday, January 31, 2011

Bowing to the Inevitable

Okay, I went and did it.

I bought a Kindle.

A woman, probably in her mid-forties, in my Ancient Near East history class has one.  She was reading on it one day before class, and I asked her how she liked it.  She told me her sister had given it to her for Christmas, and that she was convinced at first that she would not like it, because -- like me -- she has a fondness deep in her heart for the physical book.

She loves it.  She is handicapped, and like me with my increasingly painful arthritis, has a difficult time carrying around loads of books, as we history majors of necessity do.  She said it was eminently readable and easy on the eyes.

She convinced me.

It will arrive either tomorrow or Wednesday, and I've already got a store of books ready for it.  I downloaded the free "Kindle for PC" app, and bought some books, most for 99 cents, some for $7-$9, nothing over $10.  (My own Non Federal Censuses of Florida, 1784-1945: A Guide to Sources is $19.95 on Kindle.)  A few were free, off of Project Gutenberg.

Here is the list of my "starter" books awaiting my Kindle's arrival:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles,

Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol (the original unabridged version).

Robert Southey, translator:  The Chronicles of El Cid.  (My other major is Spanish, and I've read part of El Cantar de Mio Cid in Spanish for my class last term.)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt:  The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt:  Radio Addresses to the American People between 1933 and 1944.  (The book does not say who the compiler was.)

Frederick Jackson Turner:  The Frontier in American History.  A must for any history major, and I shamefacedly admit that I have not read this book before.

William D. Dewhurst:  The History of St. Augustine, Florida . . . which continues on with the ungodly long subtitle common in 1881, when this was published.  It is an astounding and wonderful fact of a century I am otherwise mostly disappointed in, that books which have been accessible only by traveling to a particular library or archive are becoming available for everyone.  It is making historical research a lot easier.

Mercy Otis Warren:  History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution . . . another one with a long rambling subtitle.  Mercy Warren was THE early American woman of letters, and an eyewitness to the whole thing. 

Alfred Thayer Mahan:  The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660-1783.  Another must-read for history majors, and for anyone having connection to the seagoing military services (I was in the Coast Guard).

Theodora Kroeber:  Ishi in Two Worlds.  I had heard about this book from when I was a kid, but never got around to reading it.  The base fact, that an American Indian whose tribe had been obliterated had been living in the mountains of California, and came down ragged, bedraggled, nearly starving, sounds like the stuff of fiction.  Ishi was found cowering in a corner of a rancher's corral.  The rancher called the sheriff, and the sheriff, bless him forever, called anthropologists at the University of California.  Ultimately a sad tale.

Anna H. Leonowens:  Memoirs of a British Governess at the Siamese Court.  This is the original, true account on which Margaret Landon based a novel, Anna and the King of Siam, upon which Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II based one of my favorite Broadway musicals, The King and I.  Richard Rodgers is one of my favorite composers.

Michael Schumacher:  Mighty Fitz:  The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  Schumacher dedicated his book not only to the crew of the ship, but also to Gordon Lightfoot.  And if you do not know the connection between the ship and Gordon Lightfoot, go here: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot.

I do have a problem with some of the books prepared for the Kindle:  on some of them, the bibliographic information (found on the backside, or verso, of the title page) is missing.  That needs to be remedied.

I'm looking forward to playing with the gadget, and I have one great use already for the Kindle:  I am taking it with me on my doctor visits.  I will have something to read that I will truly be interested in reading, and a platform to read them on which has not been handled by a bunch of sick people!

Now, go to the YouTube link and listen to Gordon Lightfoot sing about the Edmund Fitzgerald.  It is an awesome song.