Eleven years of Kindle

Eleven years ago (Christmas 2009), I was given a Kindle and instantly loved it. I still have a Kindle and I still love it to bits … but there are some buts.  I actually want to get this post – and a few others – written and published in a reasonable space of time, hence a list of points rather than carefully crafted prose. The chronology of events is based on my memory, so possibly not entirely accurate. Here goes:

  • I have a Kindle, woop, woop! I can read lots of books, lots and lots of books, on one book-sized device, not much heavier than a book.
  • The screen is one I’ve never seen before and is SO much easier on the eye (on my eye anyway) than a computer screen.
  • The battery lasts for ages and ages, unlike other devices I could mention…
  • I can download samples for free, an absolute stroke of genius! Sample sizes are generous for books written in English, and sometimes ridiculously stingy for books written in French (I speak and read both languages).
  • Some of the classics are free or cost very little. The quality of e-reader/Kindle-friendly version varies quite widely…
  • One annoying problem is solved quite quickly: previously, when you downloaded a sample and then bought the book, the sample stayed in your library AND you had to find the page where the sample left off. No longer!
  • I can send pdfs to my Kindle. That is truly brilliant.
  • I get a new Kindle from my all-things-electronic dealer (R.) every two years or so (whereas I keep a phone for as long as I dare – thereby slightly interrupting the flow of the not-quite latest version of the Apple phones from R. to the other members of the family: our two daughters and me) and there are more tiddly bits each time.
  • I’ll rephrase that: lots of functions are added in, like highlights and bookmarks and collections.
  • The user manual/instructions get a bit more complicated.
  • As I approach my 50th birthday, I truly appreciate being able to change the font size…
  • Over the years, I get to learn that if I want a wide range of Kindle books in French AND English, my best bet is to use my UK address and a .co.uk account. (Here’s hoping Brexit doesn’t change all that). It does mean, however, that I can’t have my beloved J D Salinger books (Especially Nine Stories) on my Kindle. Of course, Amazon is not entirely responsible for the conspicuous failure that is intellectual property regulation in the 21st century. Surely, surely there is a sensible way to reward creators fairly for their work, while letting consumers read/watch/listen to what they want, wherever they happen to reside and in whatever language? Anyway…
  • The settings have changed, they’re organised differently, takes a little getting used to. The buttons have changed to but they are entirely intuitive, whichever way you hold your Kindle.
  • I find that I can’t work out how to send pdfs to my Kindle anymore. The size of the user manual and the number and hierarchy of the settings puts me off trying to work out how to do it. No more pdfs to my Kindle.
  • There are rumours that “Amazon authors” are encouraged to write longer books, that’s terrible if true.
  • This is no rumour: I am encouraged to monitor (=spy on) the amount my children read. They’re too old now anyway but I would NEVER have used this function. How to put someone off reading for life!
  • As a translator, I investigate the Amazon Crossing system thoroughly and even hang around the Amazon stand at the Salon du livre in Paris, and then conclude this is not for me.
  • The only way I can lend  Kindle books, which is one of the two fundamental drawbacks of a Kindle, is by subscribing to Kindle Unlimited. The last time I looked, the range of books available wasn’t what I wanted at all. If I can lend Kindle books any other way, please let me know!
  • Whispersync for Voice activated. Wow!! Wow wow wow. I’ve loved audio books for ever and being able to switch from reading it to listening to it is just amazing.
  • Slight gripe: the Whispersync actors are very good and professional but other audio books, including Audible have stellar actors for unabridged narrations.
  • Slight gripe N°2: the Whispersync … doesn’t sync very often
  • Slight gripe N°3: since I’ve activated Whispersync for Voice, the battery runs out far more quickly.
  • The second major drawback of a Kindle is that you can not show off all your books in your library. But wait! If you have an R. in your life who finds a hack to display the covers of all your Kindle books and then cycle through them in slide show mode on one of those terribly noughties electronic photo frames, you can!

In summary, if I had to choose between a smart phone OR a Kindle (not a Kindle Fire obviously) and a non-smart phone, I would definitely go for the latter. And yes it’s absolutely crazy but it is highly unlikely that I will ever have to make this choice, given that probably much more damage will have to be inflicted on the planet before we have to give up gadgets (and in my defence, we drive a single electric car and I use solid shampoo, so there).

Season’s greetings to all Kindle readers!

Au secours ! D’où viennent ces crocs ? de Sophie Delenclos

crocsJe viens de lire mon premier livre de vampires. Eh non, je n’avais même pas lu Dracula de Bram Stoker, même si c’est un grand classique et estampillé comme tel. A priori, je ne raffole pas du sang, je préfère un café serré, un bordeaux, une menthe à l’eau bien fraîche comme élixir. Et puis, ni l’une ni l’autre de mes deux filles, pourtant de la génération Twilight et Vampire Diaries, n’a manifesté le moindre intérêt pour nos ami·es à crocs, alors que je m’inspire parfois de leurs lectures, « pour changer ». Bref, je suis en terre inconnue chez les vampires.

Eh  bien, j’ai beaucoup aimé Au secours ! D’où viennent ces crocs ? de Sophie Delenclos, publié chez Rebelle Éditions.

Prenons les personnages d’abord. Lectrice chevronnée, je ne panique plus quand on me donne beaucoup d’informations sur plein de personnages (quatre, on est d’accord, c’est beaucoup). On s’y retrouve toujours à la fin, même si on est du genre pressé ou à ne pas revenir en arrière pour vérifier un détail. Et puis, si l’histoire plaît, ce n’est pas si grave de s’emmêler les pinceaux de temps à autre. Donc quatre ados entrent en scène, avec une parfaite parité : deux filles/jeunes filles/jeunes femmes/femmes et deux garçons/etc. : Thomas, Alix, Leïla, Maxime.

L’intrigue est fondée sur des pizzas, un soupçon de sport, un brin de musique, des allusions au gaming, les études qui viennent s’immiscer dans le quotidien, les interactions avec les parents (en couple, séparés et en solo) et … les histoires d’amour qui finissent bien, ou mal, en général. Rassurez-vous, je n’ai pas oublié l’aspect vampire, avec son lot de références à une lignée ancestrale d’êtres qui se nourrissent de sang et tout le folklore qui va avec, ainsi que de manipulations biochimiques et de questions de génétique compliquées.

Cerise sur le gâteau, le dénouement offre du suspense, de l’action, du gore mais surtout … la possibilité d’une suite.

J’ai beaucoup aimé l’histoire mais aussi l’écriture : Le ton de Sophie Delenclos est toujours parfait parce qu’elle écrit ce qu’elle connaît bien, comme le monde du travail au bureau si bien décrit dans les romances tout aussi bien ficelées et « feel good » qu’elle a publiées par ailleurs. En l’occurrence ici, elle croque des portraits d’adolescents très réussis (je parle des portraits, pas des ados, quoique ceux-là soient plutôt chou) et plante le décor dans une banlieue parisienne à la Amélie Poulain.

Je me permets un bémol. Au cours du roman, on apprend à connaitre deux des parents des protagonistes un peu mieux que les autres, dont la mère de Leïla. Elle est sympa, compréhensive, dynamique, moderne, concilie travail de pédiatre avec l’éducation monoparentale de ses deux enfants. Jusque-là tout va bien. Or, quand un soir elle rentre épuisée du travail pour trouver sa fille de cinq ans dans un état de saleté repoussant malgré le débarbouillage approximatif prodigué par sa sœur aînée, elle se met immédiatement à faire la toilette de l’infâme gamine. Je l’imagine dans la salle de bains d’humeur radieuse, en train de chantonner en mode « Cendrillon fait la vaisselle ». Alors là, je dis non. Face à cette situation, toute mère normalement constituée se mettrait  à hurler, proférer des injures, paniquer tout le monde, pour ensuite s’effondrer en larmes.

À ce détail près, la mère de Leïla est parfaite. Et le bouquin aussi.

Brexit deal? New trade agreements? They’ll all need extensive discussions

brexit dealWe are witnesses to the last days of the United Kingdom’s experimental contribution to the European ideal – or not, possibly. And yet, I can’t help thinking that all the hype and drama about whether or not a Brexit deal will get done in the next few days or hours misses the point.

The Brexit deal was only ever going to represent a written statement that would set out the main lines for a long-term relationship. The intention was always to get to “an agreement to draw up an agreement”, a proper, comprehensive one and one that was as mutually satisfactory to all parties as possible. And don’t get me wrong, I still believe that  it would be extremely helpful: it’s always better not to start from a blank piece of paper.

Let’s imagine for a moment that some sort of rabbit gets pulled out of a hat and the Ireland circle is squared, among a few others.  Can we collectively wipe our brow and exclaim happily “Gosh, that was close!” Of course not, there are years of complex, nitty-gritty and often fundamental issues to sort out. It simply isn’t a question of “Sod any deal, let’s get on with it, let’s do business and run our own show”. Instead, there will be a multitude of practical problems that will requirearticle 50 effective solutions. How will the France-United Kingdom borders operate in practice? Who will be negotiating tariffs with whom? (Hint, the 27-strong European Union is more than likely to act as a single bloc) Will Molton Mowbray pork pies mean anything outside the UK?

 

The discussions are going to happen. The question is, will this whole process end up lasting decades and turn into a sort of stalemate, with constant sniping, backtracking and going over the same ground? Or will some attempt be made at something that is thought through and helpful?

 

Ce blog cause surtout de livres, en français parfois.