Category Archives: books

My new Kindle Paperwhite.

A couple of days ago now I went and bought A new Kindle Paperwhite which had recently been released.

It’s not the first Kindle I have had. Just under three years ago I went down to John Lewis and bought what was then a 3rd generation Kindle and I remember being there wondering what am I going to make of this.
I do like my books. I like the action of turning the page, the feel of it, the cover, the fact that as you repeatedly read it it ages in changes in character. You might get a slight rip on a page or finger marks or splash of coffee on it. That all goes to making up the on-going reading experience, so what was I going to make of doing it electronically?

By the end of the first day I knew I was going to love it to bits. No worry about when the novelty wears off it’ll end up on the shelf just collecting dust. I really do like this as a reading experience and far better than using my iPad. That’s a great device where graphics are involved and for colour magazines that sort of thing. As a reader it’s not that bad a reader, but if I’m using it for more that about 40 minutes I’ve kind of had enough and want a little break, where using my Kindle I can settle down for a good evening’s read and immediately feel myself involved with the book, where using my iPad I always know I’m looking at an electronic device.

About six weeks ago my old Kindle developed a fault with some corruption up in the top quarter of the screen. This basically made it unusable. There was no hesitation or second thoughts, I immediately knew I wanted a replacement device. A quick look on the internet showed that a new model was due out fairly soon so I decided to wait. The reviews of the new Paperwhite model were all favourable so when it came out I headed off down to my local Waterstones book shop and got one.

I really do like it and am so glad I’m back with a working device again, I think these Kindles are great examples of things that just do one thing only but they do it really well.

My new Kindle Paperwhite does not have a physical keyboard but is a touch screen device and so uses a virtual keyboard. This I prefer to my old Kindle’s physical keyboard which I found a bit irritating to use – the buttons were too small and fiddly for my liking. However there’s one thing I do prefer with the old model and that’s for page turning it actually has physical buttons down the side where this new one requires a touch of the screen to turn the page. I prefer the buttons, but that’s just my personal view on that.

With my old model I did pay extra to get it with 3G functionality, but in reality in the 3 years I’ve had it I don’t suppose I’ve used its 3G more than half a dozen times. Wi-Fi at home means that I can use that for downloading books, and for direct transfer use its USB connection. When out and about there’s plenty of locations with free Wi-Fi or I can set up my mobile phone as a local Wi-Fi hot-spot. So when I got this new model I didn’t bother paying the extra for the 3G version.

The other difference with the new model compared to my old is that this new one has a backlight. I tend not to have it on for normal usage however it is really useful when in poor lighting conditions. I can see this making life a lot easier where you bedtime partner wants the lights out but you want to keep on reading!

Another thing I really like about the Kindles which does give them an advantage over your paper book is that when you come across a word that you don’t understand it’s so easy to look it up (and without disturbing your reading routine in the way that having to put a paper book down, go and find your dictionary, look up the word, then get back to your original book and pick up reading again does). Just being able to touch the word and have a pop-up definition window appear is really nice.

The old model specifications talk about a month out of the battery for ordinary use and I found that was quite realistic. With this new model they’re talking about two months out of the battery so we’re able to go away for holidays and that sort of thing not having to worry about cables and chargers, though it will charge off any USB connection.

Would I upgrade to this new Paperwhite if I had a working older model? That depends on the importance to you of having the backlight. For me personally I was quite happy without it, however my upgrade was forced upon me with my old one’s screen fault, so going to this model was a natural choice. If you’ve got an existing one without a backlight then you’re going to have to make a decision here yourself, is it worth it or is it not. All I will say is old or new, I do love my Kindle. As I commented on earlier it’s one of those devices that just does one task and it does it really well.

So I’ll happily say thumbs up for my Kindle Paperwhite.

E-reader battery life.

Form over function; E-reader battery life.

I have a Kindle 3 e-reader, it’s a bit over 18 months old, mono screen, and as an ‘electronic book’ I think it’s great – far better than I was anticipating and a real pleasure to use. I’m not really too sure how long its battery life is between needing a recharge, but we are talking into the weeks (rather than days). A device that’s just designed to do one thing, and it does that really well.

Since the first Kindle came out and showed there was a potentially large market for this sort of thing there’s been a whole range of alternatives appearing, though recently they seem to be turning themselves into full colour, multi-function, touch screen devices. Some have been based on the manufacturers own proprietary operating system, but more and more appear based around a bastardised Android set-up. However regardless of the behind the scenes system, the manufacturers have still been pushing them principally as e-readers.

This I have no problem with whatsoever, but, and this is a big ‘but’ for me, my Kindle 3 lasts for ages off a full battery charge, I can quite happily take it away with me on holiday or long week-ends without having to worry about chargers and mains sockets and all that sort of stuff.

These new devices only give me a relatively few reading-hours before it’s go hunt the charger time, and depending where you are, go hunt a very illusive mains socket.

I do appreciate that active touch colour screen multi-function device will consume a greater amount of power compared to something more basic, however there’s also this great push to make these new devices thinner and lighter than ever before. That I also have no problem with whatsoever, but it would be so nice if there could be one model in any given range that could be that little bit thicker, just a mm or so, and fill that extra space with additional battery capacity.

That small extra thickness and weight should make no real difference to the handling and portability of the device, but having that extra usage, of having a device that I could confidently take away for a long week-end and not have to even think about cables and sockets and chargers and all that sort of crap would be ever so nice.

Good books, young and adult.

Good books can be for both young and adult reading.

One thing I’ve been reminded of through reading (and enjoying) the Harry Potter books is that just because a book may be written with a young audience in mind doesn’t mean it’s not a good adult read.
Modern-day authors like Pullman and Paolini have written some hefty-sized ‘teenage’ books which I’ve found quite captivating. The Narnia series by C. S. Lewis seemed to me, when reading them during my childhood, as a good, fun, adventure story involving the fight of good and evil. However recently reading them again as an adult, although not a particularly intellectually demanding read, the interplay of the various characters can take on a far greater meaning when viewed from an adult perspective. (Now I think about it, I really must read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland again.)
Eoin Colfer’s Artmis Fowl books have always entertained me, though I do think his latest in the series, The Atlantis Complex, a little bit weak. I’ve also enjoyed following the adventures of Howl and his Moving Castle. (Diana Wynne Jones.) Another favourite has been the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve.


I suppose it all depends what you want from a book. Sometimes it’s nice to have something that taxes the brain and is a demanding or challenging read. Something that really makes you work and in turn can provide a tremendously rewarding reading experience.
Other times though, it is nice to be able to relax and allow yourself to flow into the story without too much effort, where it’s easy to allow ones imagination to head off into another world. Life without this bit of escapism would be a so much more stressful place.

What to do now post-Harry Potter?

What to do now post-Harry Potter?

At the time of writing this the final part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has just come out in the cinema. This brings to an end an amazing Harry Potter journey that started in 1997 with the publication of the first book of Harry and his adventure concerning the Philosopher’s Stone.

However my discovery of the world of Potter started at Christmas 2000 with a radio broadcast of the first book. (This was at a time when books 1 to 4 had been published.) This means for me Potter’s been around 11 years, or for those who got in at the start, 14 years.

Let’s look at it another way, as an adult it represents an 11 year chunk of my life, but it’s still just a chunk out of middle age. For someone who started at book 1 and at age 9, 10, 11 sort of area, then for them it’s been a 14 year period which now brings them up into their mid 20s, so their whole ‘growing up’ part of their life has involved Harry Potter (whether with book publication or film release). That’s puberty and adolescence, that’s teenage years and growing up, discovering girlfriends and boyfriends, that’s leaving school, college, university, finding work and becoming an adult. All with Harry Potter there growing up with them.

So I was not surprised to see some emotional people leaving the cinema after the midnight showing ended. It’s finished. Something that’s always been there for them now is not there. Emptiness.
I’ve uploaded a YouTube video commenting more on things:-

One thing about the books, they need re-reading. I don’t know how many times I’ve read them, but each time I see things I missed before. Until fairly recently I’d thought of book 2 as being one of the weaker ones, however a friend suggested I read it not for the story-line, but specifically to look to comments and references that have some significance in the future, and doing so totally changed the way I saw the book.
A few examples of things to look out for. Fairly early on in the book Harry hides in a cabinet – one end of a pair of vanishing cabinets, and later Peeves drops a cabinet (the other one) when Harry is in Filch’s office. (Is this how the link between them got damaged which then leads to Malfoy wanting Borgin & Burkes to repair the link.)

We meet Dobby and learn of house elves special magic, there’s a couple of light-hearted comments about Percy potentially being rather ambitious. We see our first Horcrux (though we don’t know it) and that Harry has the impression that Professor Snape can read minds. There are hints about Ginny and her future relationship to Harry… and so the list goes on. All the earlier books refer to future events, but book 2 has something on almost every other page!

Anyway, the books are done, the films finished, but then as they say, all good things must come to an end sometime. However it does leave me thinking, what to do now post-Harry Potter?