I'm coming round to it... Before we left for South America husband fulfilled his threat and bought a Kindle. I rolled my eyes and muttered something about making himself a target as a robbable gringo in a third world country and about not being able to share books nicely.
"But there 'll be extra room in my rucksack..." He raised his eyebrows at the pile of books I'd not managed to squeeze into my pack.
I nodded grudgingly and insisted he download South America on a Shoestring. I already had a paper copy scribbled in post-it noted and corners folded and I was sort of glad to not have to share it. It would only have caused squabbles.
But now, having spent a couple of months with Kenny Kindle it hurts a bit to admit it but he is pretty good. He's not amazing to read from, no better than normal paper and lacks the subtleties of books that I love. But slowly... slowly... I´m seeing a few benefits. When the Manbooker was announced I mentioned in passing how I would love to read the winning novel when I got home. Five minutes later Kenny slipped himself into my unsuspecting hands with Julian Barnes´s ´The Sense of an Ending´ flashing innocently up at me. Apt. I thought, as I read warming to the plastic casing in my hands and the nonchalant page turns with their mildly satisfying thumb click.
And, wonderfully, I was able to download ´Quickies: Short Stories for Adults´ produced by the brilliant collective #Flashtag featuring some of my most favourite writers. Had I not been travelling I would have gone to the book launch to hear readings back in September. So being able to read the book was fab. In this saucy tongue-in-cheek... or elsewhere... collection of flash fictions the writers have created saucepot stories that they probably wouldn´t want their nans to read. They´re fabulously varied. Think Anais Nin-Jilly Cooper fusions with the smutty pages that fall open in public library books... My favourite tales are David Gaffney`s ´What Happened to the Girl´ and Kim McGowan´s ´Tuffnell´s Toffees´. Definitely a book to buy in whatever format tickles your fancy.
The only sad thing, and I know I´m harping on a bit, is that in its digital format I can`t book swap it in a hostal for someone to find. I like to think who it might have been. A foreign student wanting to learn the finer points of english usage tempted in by the seeming innocence of the short stories, or a kid on a gap year who thought they knew it all...
So, yes. I admit it. Kenny is growing in my estimations. and I´m using his clever brainbox to download relevant books for each country I end up in. Rusty Young´s ´Marching Powder´ for Bolivia, `Don´t Sleep there are Snakes´and ´Lost City of Z´ for Brazil, some Mario Vargas Llosa for Peru... and while I sit reading them, in the corner of my eye I see husband twiddling his thumbs. His expression as he glances longingly at Kenny is somewhere between annoyance and vindication.