As a child, I was a voracious reader. Maybe because I had no video game console. I enjoyed fiction up through the end of my 20s, studied a bit of literature in college, but by the time I was 30, the Internet had really taken off, offering me more bite-sized magazine-style content than ever, and once Julian was born, my reading time was dedicated to baby care, parenting, and oh yeah, motherhood.
I forgot how much I love to read novels, and rarely did it. But about a year ago, when I was getting Scarlett a library card, I started a new habit. Everytime I took books out of the library for her, I checked out a couple for myself as well. Some were fast, easy reads that I gulped down like Diet Dr. Pepper. Some choices I made were revisits of authors I loved in the past, like Mona Simpson. I was blissed out on reading, spending time every night in bed with a book.
For my birthday in May, my in-laws gave me a Kindle Paperwhite. This is the less expensive of the Kindles — a little over $100 — and it has a black and white display, with no other functions beyond selecting books from the Amazon store and reading them. It’s truly like having a magical book. As soon as I finish one book, I can download a new one, wirelessly, just sitting in my bed, or anywhere that offers free Wi-Fi.
I’ve been a reading maniac since then, finishing a book every week.
When my college roommate, mother to two small children, bemoaned on Facebook that her reading habits have been totally discarded, I thought, “Oh yeah, that happened to me, too. ” I assured her that I experienced the loss of reading in my life associated with having young children, but I had bounced back with full force.
The folks at Kindle put a Kindle Fire in my hot little hands for the past few months, and here’s a quick re-cap on the advantages if you’re thinking about getting one:
- Full tablet functionality: Browses the web, does Facebook, let’s you watch videos, use Netflix, and more, all for WAY LESS than an iPad. In fact the smallest and cheapest of the Kindle Fires is $159 as of this writing and I gave my parents one for their birthdays last week. (They have the same birthday!)
- Kindle Free Time: For kids of independent tablet-using age, this is a cool feature that I was hoping to discover on the iPad and have not. Set up a profile for each kid and fill it with books, apps, videos that you are okay with them having. Then restrict the times for reading and game play. For example 30 minutes of game play, but unlimited book reading. Cool feature, though a bit clunky to use – the parent must log in and out using a code before the child can get into their Free Time area.
- Color: Since fiction is my passion, I am happy with my black and white Paperwhite screen. If I was going to move my consumption of Real Simple magazine or cookbooks to the Kindle, I’d probably go with the color screen.
So what am I reading? I’ve read a lot of crap, because I’m often enticed by cheap prices, and well, sometimes you get what you pay for. (Note to self: Connect Kindle to your library account, dumb ass. Why have you only successfully done this once? You could be reading all you want for free. End of note to self.) But I’ve read plenty that I’ve enjoyed as well.
Here’s a list of
ten thirteen books I’m not embarrassed to tell you I’ve read. All these affiliate links are to Amazon.com, the only place to get a Kindle, I assume. I’m putting stars next to my top five.
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – A wealthy man struggles with his new life as a quadraplegic after an accident. The story is about the relationship he has with his caregiver, a working class young woman. It took me a few chapters to get into this, but I was totally immersed by the end.
- The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison – A relationship-meets-suspense drama, comparable to Gone Girl. A couple has a nice life on the surface, but when he gets someone else pregnant and then doesn’t tell her, and she knows, but doesn’t tell him she knows, it gets intriguing.
- My Hollywood by Mona Simpson* – Story of a new mother who loses her sense of self and space in her life for her work as a composer when she and her husband relocated to LA to pursue his career. Also, the story of domestic workers in LA who work for these families and send their money back home to the Philippines. Great character development and writing. Must-read for working moms, artist moms, L.A. moms, and moms of Filipino descent.
Now I must interrupt my list to say that I had to go back and look at the Amazon pages for these books to remember the names. One weird thing about reading on the Kindle Paperwhite is that you don’t have the book cover in front of you all the time, nor the title. I can be totally into a book and have no idea what it’s called. (Note to Amazon: Why not put the title in tiny letters at the bottom of the screen?)
Ok, back to the list.
- The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – A handful of Australian suburban moms lives intersect around an incident that took place many years earlier. This one was good, but I preferred What Alice Forgot, by the same author, about a woman who wakes up from a minor accident having forgotten the past ten years of her life, which include having three children and the disintegration of her once-happy marriage. Neither book is very intellectual, but intriguing premises.
- The Light Between Oceans – Probably the most literary work I’ve mentioned so far. Tragic, heartbreaking story of a lighthouse keeper in Australia, his wife, and the child that they begin raising. You will have big feelings when you read this.
- Coming Clean: A memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller – I may have grabbed this one because it was $4.99 on the Kindle, but I really enjoyed it. A young woman details her life growing up as the child of idiosyncratic hoarders and all the shame and hard work it took to hide their secret and keep her family healthy. A bit painful to read, but inspiring as well. Also? I will never watch Hoarders and gawk at or mock those people.
- When I Found You* by Catherine Ryan Hyde – I also picked this one because it was $0.99 that day, and was blown away. It’s a touching story about an older man and a young one to whom he offers his life lessons with mind-boggling generosity and patience. In other words, the younger guy is an asshole. The writing is very simple and straightforward, and the protagonist is a man, so I assumed it was written by a man, again with the lack of book cover in my face as I read. I highly recommend this sweet book, which I now believe is aimed at young adult readers.
- The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer – My brain must be on a ten-year nap because I ordered this on my Kindle and about three pages in, realized I had read it from the library just a few months before. (No refundsies!) If I recall correctly, this book is sort of a dark slice of life about a group of female friends, all mothers, in Manhattan and surrounding areas. As they emerge from the haze of rookie motherhood at the end of their children’s elementary school years, they need to figure out what they’re doing with their lives, revealing various emotional struggles. Compelling to most urban moms, I’d guess.
- The Dinner by Herman Koch – This book is crazytown. The narrator seems reliable as he sets the stage of his teenage son hiding something from him on his mobile phone until you realize that the guy has extremely questionable ethics. Ultimately, he loses all credibility with the reader as he shares condemning stories from his own past. As a modern parent, it’s pretty interesting to consider the worrisome scenario depicted in the book, which involves the teen’s videos posted on YouTube.
- The Fault in Our Stars* by John Green – Another one targeted at young adults, but breathtaking to any reader. Warning: heavily themed on cancer, so if you can’t handle that, now you know. I strongly recommend this beautiful story about teenage outsiders. Plus? $3.99 on Kindle.
- Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – I don’t know if this is for teens, which makes me feel a little dumb, but it’s definitely about them. But also a mother. A girl has died, likely having jumped off the roof, after some Mean Girls-type experiences, and her single mom continues to get text messages giving her hints that there’s more to the case than she believed. Suspenseful, but not scary.
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette* by Maria Semple – This book was delightful to read because of its ultra-quirky main character and its unusual structure which is an assortment of letters and documents that tell the story of a smart, talented woman in Seattle who has abandoned her career, doesn’t take care of her house, and doesn’t volunteer at her daughter’s school. Her journey is entertaining and unexpected.
- The Interestings* by Meg Wolitzer – If you’re a summer camp person, especially an artsy one, you must read this. A group of adult friends passes through decades of their lives glorifying the days in which they all met at a rural arts camp in New York. As they endure the trials of adulthood — love, depression, children, career navigation — they continue to believe they were their truest selves as adolescents at summer camp.
Having tried both styles of Kindle, I prefer my Paperwhite for personal use because it’s focused on being a book. When I’m reading, I don’t want to know that Facebook or email are just a click away. It’s easier to get lost in a story in this format. I bring it everywhere and the battery lasts forever, like weeks.
Do you have a Kindle? What are you reading?
Disclosure: This post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own. I received the Kindle Fire for review. I received the Kindle Paperwhite as a gift. I love it. If you purchase something on Amazon via one of these links, we will earn affiliate fees.