Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunday picnic and reading

While the east coast is being pounded by a record-breaking snowstorm, we've had a few beautiful days out here in Southern California. Yesterday (Sunday) my family and I went to Descanso Gardens, where they are having their annual camellia show, and had a picnic with friends in 80 degree sunshine. Today it looks like showers, but temps are nice at 69. This is a picture of a flowering tree I took yesterday in the Japanese garden at Descanso.

I actually managed to do some reading on Sunday, but didn't have enough time to post for the Sunday Salon. I madly dashed through something like a third of Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves. I'm reading it for my book group, which meets this Wednesday night--so I've got to finish, or I owe $5.

This is the first book I've paid money to download to my Kindle. I'm enjoying the writing very much. It is much like earlier books of Erdrich's that I've read. The subject matter is life on and off the reservation in North Dakota, and the novel's story spans many generations of several families in the area. In some ways it's hard to follow the tangle of relationships between all the characters, but I've realized that you just have to let go and let the story wash over you instead. Erdrich is a master storyteller, and reading the book feels like listening to a spinner of tales who keeps you mesmerized with her voice. Can't wait to talk about this one in my book group!

As for reading on the Kindle, I'm getting used to it. Stefanie at So Many Books just got a Kindle 2, and wrote a good post on how she's finding it. I'm liking the actual reading experience, but I haven't figured out all the features yet. I've bookmarked several things I want to go back to in the novel's text, but haven't revisited my bookmarks yet, so I don't know how useful they will be. However, I foresee the Kindle being great for when I'm traveling--I think that is where it will shine.


litlove said...

The weather looks gorgeous over there with you - wish I were there! As you know, I have never read Erdrich so am very interested to know what you make of her. Ditto the kindle. My main preoccupation at the moment is wondering how strange it is not to know how far through a book you have read. I like to see the pages go past, which e-books don't show you. Have you noticed that at all?

Logophile said...

Here in London our camellia bush isn't in flower yet, so thanks for posting some lovely spring flowers to tide me over! I love hearing about the Kindle, but like Litlove I'd miss the enjoyment of watching the pages go past!

Gentle Reader said...

Litlove--Weather here is obnoxious in its cheerfulness, but this time of year you understand why so many people come here from cold climes. You've hit on my big problem with the e-book format. The kindle has a series of dots at the bottom, which darken as you're reading to show how much of the book you have read, so there is a sense of how far you are. But it's not like page numbers! There are also reference numbers at the bottom of the page, like, say, 700-24, meaning on this page you are reading through their sections 700 through 724, so it seems they have broken the book down into these very small segments, but for me the numbers don't correspond to anything meaningful, like page numbers. You are also able to bookmark anything you want and return to it, so it's not that the thing is hard to navigate. But I miss the physical page-turning, and the pleasure of the physical bookmark moving through your book!

Logophile--Here in southern California we get lovely spring flowers in the winter, so I'm glad to be able to tide you over! You're right about the kindle page-turning problem--if you want to hear the minutiae of how I feel about it, see the above reply to Litlove :)

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful photo! My mom in San Diego told me this evening that her fruit trees were in bloom. I look out my window and see brown and gray and mud and ice and snow. Sigh. I don't find the section numbers on the Kindle meaningful either. Mine also displays a percentage. That I like since I tend to only count paper book pages at the beginning and end and in between I measure by fractions.

Anonymous said...

"The Plague of Doves" seems like a wonderful book group read. I read it last year and devoured it. It was my first Erdrich book, but as I have her newest collection of short stories, I won't be the last. = )

I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the Kindle. I covet one so much. I just need to save up money so I can get one finally!

Gentle Reader said...

Stefanie--my kindle (the OLD version) has a series of dots at the bottom, so you can "see" where you are in the book as the dots darken, so it's sort like knowing what percentage you've finished. I guess I'll get used to it! There is so much blooming here in Southern California, it is nice. I don't always love it here, but I do appreciate the mildness of the winters and the gentle slide into spring!

J.S.--I really liked The Plague of Doves, and my book group did too. I think the Kindle is overpriced, but since my husband got it for me as a gift, I didn't complain!

Anonymous said...

We were at Descanso Saturday for the start of the spring flower show, the Beatles tribute concert, and to celebrate our 8th anniversary of getting married there. Ain't it gorgeous? BTW have you read MOTHER ON FIRE by Sandra Tsing Loh? Funniest book I've read in ages. Miss you.