Friday, January 14, 2011

Reading on the Nook & a Short Review of Antonya Nelson's Bound

Person reading a Nook

I am very much enjoying the Nook, the e-reader I bought two weeks ago.  I went to an electronic appliance store to compare the Sony Reader (which I wanted) to other e-devices and ended up with the Nook because it is inexpensive and sleek.  Ironically, I had been at B&N earlier and hadn't considered the Nook.  The salesman was a Nook fan and before I knew it...  B&N should really hire him.

The B&N website has some excellent videos about how to use the Nook.  If I can learn to use it, anybody can. 

It is a smooth, fun experience reading on the Nook, once you learn to disregard the distractions:  the browsing at B&N, the downloading of samples, the borrowing of library books, and apparently you can also check your e-mail. Of course no one makes you do any of those things.  It is a delight to download free books from and other free websites.  The whole experience is as much like reading a book as it can possibly be, because that's what you're doing, reading a book.

But I have some tips.  If you plan to write about a book, don't rely on the e-reader's bookmarking and highlighting components. Use a pen and paper and take notes. It's quicker. Highlighting passages on the machine involves a cursor and is not the giddy swipe of the pen I remember.  If you want to add notes to the page, you have to type on a tiny keyboard and I keep making typos and have to rush back and forth between the "abc" and the "123" keyboards to find all the punctuation.  All of this is slow, and good luck finding the notes later!  You have to bookmark them, and if you're like me you've also bookmarked every time you've stopped to go to the bathroom because you don't really trust the machine to remember.  I'm sure people come up with their own systems, but a pen and notebook work for me.  

Anyway, I did a "sample" highlighting run with Antonya Nelson's Bound. I bookmarked too many damned pages.  But here goes. The novel begins from the point of view of a dog whose owner is dying in a car accident. The dog is torn between its survival instincts and loyalty to its owner.  And I almost couldn't go on because I can't read sad dog stories.

But then we switch to the humans.  Misty, the dog's owner, a Houston realtor, was driving east to visit her teenage daughter, Cattie, at boarding school when the car crashed.  After  Cattie hears the news of her mother's death, she goes  AWOL and moves into a friend's stepsister's run-down house in Montpelier, Vermont. Eventually she bonds with Randall, an Iraq vet with PTSD who rents a room upstairs.  They rescue an abandoned dog and puppies in the woods.  Meanwhile, in Wichita, Catherine, Misty's best friend from high school 20 years ago,  learns that Misty named her Catties' guardian.  Catherine, a smart, pretty housewife who never achieved her potential, is the third wife of a rich, successful, much, much older businessman.  Like a perpetual adolescent who has trouble making decisions, she can't decide what to do about Cattie.  Her fascination with Cattie is partly about her identification with Misty, a poor-white-trash girl with whom Catherine, a professor's daughter, had shoplifted, drunk, and picked up men during a rebellious period in high school.

I rolled along through this novel and enjoyed it.  Nelson is fascinating and I never quite know what any character will do next. Everything works out, more or less, according to artistic design. Nelson has a hip, funny style, but there's also a hardness.  I don't completely buy all of it.  Catherine is the weak link in the story, though I like her humor. She seems to be too good to have been so bad in high school--even breaking and entering. It was easier for me to understand Misty, who moved away and climbed up the ladder to the middle class, than to comprehend Catherine, an honors student who just stagnated.  

There are also dogs, dogs, and more dogs in the novel.  At least 12 dogs. I was always holding my breath to make sure they'd be all right.
So there's the Nook reading experience. It's reading.  Lots of fun!  But next time I plan to write about a book I'll just jot down a few notes.  It's more efficient than whatever I did.


Amanda said...

I just bought my husband a Nook for his birthday this week and he loves it. I have the Nook app on my ipad and we use the same B&N logon, which is allowing us to download and share our books. This was a big concern for us - why bother with the electronic readers if we had to buy two copies of everything? Glad you like it - enjoy!

Frisbee said...

Yes,it's great, and I'm glad it works out with your iPad, too. Gadgets are great fun.