Kindle-Powered Summer Reading

This is a short post, but just wanted to share a few good reads picked up this summer and why I’m enjoying them on the Kindle.

Why the Kindle rocks

The Kindle, which I’ve been using heavily since January, has definitely help speed up reading, thanks to several key features:

  • mobility (duh)
  • adjustable font size (I have crappy eyesight, especially at night)
  • range of texts available (in case you weren’t in the mood for that novel you schlepped, there are other things read)
  • free sample chapters (to bypass guilt-reading a book I bought but then didn’t enjoy)
  • instant new material (to immediately dive into the next book when you’re zooming through them)

Some summer reading recommendations

  • For the Win by Cory Doctorow. A fast novel about how the internet could lower the transaction cost to form a global labor movement, led gold farmers and other virtual game workers. The plot spans internet cafes in China, Singapore, India and the US with plenty of Doctorow-esque trivia and asides (including how to cozily cross the Pacific in a shipping container, how to calculate Coase cost, and a glimpse into virtual world markets).
  • Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem. A detective novel taking place in the near-future where evolved animals and hormone-treated “babyheads” roam the streets and the state doles out free “make”, a drug that placates the population so that it can be controlled by Inquisitors. The protagonist, an old school detective, tries to solve a murder and crack open the twisted system despite being as addicted and as part of the crazy world as anyone else.
  • Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. A poetically written story about a boy Kafka who runs away to the island of Shikoku, trying to escape his Oedipal fate. His journey is paralleled by an odd old man who can talk to cats. It’s all a bit bizarre but enjoyable to read.
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Spanning 13 chapters all told from the perspective of different characters, it first sounded like this novel would be a headache to keep track of. But the stories all interweave in a lovely way, and Egan draws the characters so well. The book feels very modern, especially of course the famed Powerpoint chapter, which was easy enough to read on the Kindle and definitely proved that slides can be vehicles of literacy art. Or at least entertaining stories.
  • Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. This book digs deep into a nuclear family and a love triangle carried over several years. It studies the emotional paralysis and, at times, depression and self-pity arising from the “freedom” of modern America and the suburban family.

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