Thursday, November 15, 2012

Christ, Kindle.

My fabulous better half had the characteristically smart idea of buying me a Kindle Fire earlier this year for my 50th birthday. We were getting swamped with books and had downsized to an apartment from our sprawling country home, so it made sense to celebrate a "big birthday" with a present that also accommodated a bookcase-worth of tomes even if I'd already made it clear that I planned to curtail my book buying in light of 1) redundancy and 2) having hundreds of books still unread.

The main downside to the Kindle Fire is having to charge it every six hours or so, fine if you're at home, a pain in the hole if you're at the beach, particularly given that beach reading demands that the backlight be turned up to counter the glare, using up more power and reducing untethered time to two or three hours. The main advantage, besides having a portable library to hand, is the option of downloading samples of books from the Amazon website before buying. And owners aren't restricted to buying from Amazon, incidentally. Reading pdf files on the Fire isn't ideal, but I reckon I have more than 50 books in pdf format on the Fire that I've downloaded from various websites, not to mention journal articles, conference papers and the like. What's more, there is a stack of out-of-copyright texts on Amazon  that you can download for free.

I was inspired to write this post by a chance encounter with a newspaper article in which someone listed the books currently on their e-reader. It was a short and uninspiring list of mediocre novels, but, hey, whatever turns you on. Here's my list, for what it's worth. I have an ulterior motive of wanting to find out folks' opinions on the books I've downloaded samples of from Amazon before I actually commit to buying them. Help me out here, folks. This is what I have:

Complete books (purchased [yeah, okay, I'm weak])

Chavs, by Owen Jones (latest edition, no less)
The Subversive Copy Editor, by Carol Fisher Saller
Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
Fool, by Christopher Moore
Lamb, by Christopher Moore
I, Partridge, by Steve Coogan et al.

Complete books (free): A veritable first-year undergraduate course 

Critique of Pure Reason, by Immanuel Kant
Critique of Practical Reason, by Immanuel Kant
An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, by David Hume
Essays, by David Hume
Miscellaneous Essays, by Thomas de Quincey
A New Philosophy, by Henri Bergson
Selected Essays, by Karl Marx
Anarchism and Other Essays, by Emma Goldman
Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust
Signs of Change, by William Morris
The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy, by William James
Philosophy of Mind, by G.W.F. Hegel
Human, All Too Human, by Friedrich Nietzsche
The World as Will and Idea, by Arthur Schopenhauer
An Inquiry into the Nature of Peace and the Terms of Its Perpetuation, by Thorstein Veblen
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates, by Xenophon
Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, by Peter Kropotkin
Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, by Alexander Berkman
The Soul of Man under Socialism, by Oscar Wilde

Free samples: Help me out if you can.

Ignorance: How It Drives Science, by Stuart Firestein
The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, by Paul Preston
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, by Michael E. Mann
The Sources of Social Power, Vol. 3: Global Empires and Revolution, 1890-1945, by Michael E. Mann
The Faith of the Faithless: Experiments in Political Theology, by Simon Critchley
Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics, by Terry Eagleton
The Expo Files, by Stieg Larsson
Once You Break a Knuckle, by D. W. Wilson
Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World, by Kwasi Kwarteng
The German Genius: Europe's Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution and the Twentieth Century, by Peter Watson
In Praise of Barbarians, by Mike Davis
Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain's Far Right, by Daniel Trilling
Amsterdam Stories, by Nescio
How to Change the World, by Eric Hobsbawm

Pdfs: These too could be yours.

Society Must be Defended, by Michel Foucault
Truth and Existence, by Jean-Paul Sartre
American Empire and the Political Economy of Global Finance, edited by Leo Panitch and Martijn Konings
From Marxism to Post-Marxism?, by Goran Therborn
History of Sexuality (3 vols.), by Michel Foucault
The Making of Marx's Capital, by Roman Rosdolsky
The Lacanian Left, by Yannis Stavrakakis
The Enigma of Capital, by David Harvey

and another fifty-plus titles courtesy of the Fuck Verso website.

Enough to make any beach-based holiday a delight.

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