So I’ve got a Kindle, and I love it with a love that is pure and true. All the books in a tiny device! It has helped to stem the tide of book accumulation in my life, which might not seem like a real problem, but it is. See, houses only have so much space. And books, I’ve finally come to acknowledge, have the power to stress me out. This is why I find it impossible to work in libraries. I love reading a book, but to be surrounded by books actually makes me feel claustrophobic and anxious.
That said, I need to have a physical copy of a book that I think is very, very good. I need to hold a pen in my hand and underline things, and flip backwards and reread gorgeous passages, and annotate questions and thoughts and ideas.
So I typically reserve my Kindle for full-on pleasure reading. Smut, Biographies and Memoirs and other non-fiction stuff, Crime Fiction, YA stuff. Never anything I would want to teach or do research on. Stuff that I will never care about engaging with deeply but that I just want to CONSUME, ravenously.
I have made three mistakes in which I bought a book on Kindle that I should have bought in Print. Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (which, yes, I’m a Franzen apologist and I get that he’s a dick, but I adore his novels), Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot, and, now, Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. Apparently I make this mistake with contemporary American literary fiction, because I think to myself that since my field is British Literature it’s ok to read the American stuff in e-form. What I apparently forget at those moments is that I actually teach courses that include literature outside of my research area, and if something is amazing my first impulse is to want to force unsuspecting undergraduates to read it.
So I’m only 37% of the way through The Interestings (fucking Kindle with percentages instead of pages), but I want you all to go out and read it. NOW. It is beautiful and funny and heartbreaking and suspenseful and lovely. And then we can all talk about how amazing it is.
Also: all the shit with Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult bagging on the publicity for Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (which, let’s note, is a 600+ page novel that I have now taught twice to General Education non-majors and both times students have found it one of their favorite texts in the course, and given my quizzing I know they aren’t just bullshitting about having read it), like they were somehow being abused because he was getting press for writing about “domestic” things and they weren’t getting similar attention, because, you know, he is a Giant Penis and they are Wronged Women Writers Assigned to the Chick Lit Section of the Bookstore? Let’s just note: Meg Wolitzer is fucking amazing, writing about “domestic” things, and I would read a novel by her any day of the week and twice on Sunday, based on 37% alone. I am already looking forward to rereading this novel, and I’m not even done with it yet. I have never felt the desire to reread anything by Weiner or Picoult (indeed, they are Kindle reads for me). There is a fucking difference between a novel that matters and that is beautifully written and… well, other sorts of novels. (I wanted to write a really snobby thing just then, but I am refraining.)
Point is: I have just discovered Meg Wolitzer and I kind of have a crush on her. The Interestings is SO. FUCKING. GOOD. It is a real book.