Sunday, December 26, 2010

Book Review: Coal: A Human History, and More!

So for my Hanukkah present I got an iPad.

This is totally inappropriate for two reasons.  (1) I am not 10 years old, and Hanukkah presents are for children and (2) Hanukkah presents are supposed to be tiny things, like, well, a book, or a box of chocolates.

But Herr Dr. Delagar, that is how he rolls, and he knew I wanted an iPad (I have been visiting the iPads at BestBuy for the past six months), so voila!

I love it.  How much do I love it?

I don't think I can go back to reading books the other way.

And you know me, I love books.  If you had asked me two years ago whether I would give up physical books, HA!  I would have laughed at you, HA!

But I have now spent -- what? fifteen days?  Reading books this way?  HA!  I am never going back to reading books on paper.

When I do have to -- as occasionally I do, because not all books can be accessed via iBooks or Kindle (the iPad comes with a free Kindle app!  How cool is that???) -- it's just so dragggy!

Books on paper have to be held open!  Their pages shut if you aren't keeping them braced EVERY MINUTE!  You can lose your place in them!  With books on paper, if you don't know a reference, like what a "negus" is, or where Catalina Island is, and you don't happen to be right next to a computer or dictionary, why, you just have to STAY IGNORANT!

With the iPad?  You tap the page, and two seconds later, you're in a dictionary or on Wikipedia, or on the net, and you know!

Also!  You can take notes on the text, type them right in.  You can sort of do that with a paper book, but you have to write it in the margin, and maybe there is room and maybe there is not, and it's your awful handwriting, and if you change your mind about the note you can only erase so much.

Also!  All my books can go with me everywhere!  In one tiny little skinny folder.  

(Also -- and this is the dangerous part, I admit -- with the iPad, if you want a book?  You tap STORE, you look the book up, you tap BUY BOOK, and TWO SECONDS LATER, you have the book.)

Best Hanukkah present ever.

I'm reading on it, at present, London Labour and the London Poor, a couple of Terry Pratchett novels, a book of short stories by John Kessel, and another by Robin McKinley; I just finished reading Coal: a Human History, which I highly recommend.

Written by Barbara Freese, Coal travels through history, from the first use of coal, as jewelry, interestingly enough, to our modern era, when coal was instrumental in buying George W. his presidency, on through what effect coal is having in staving off any effective action against global climate change.  It's a relatively short book, packed with detail, and very readable.  Kept me up, engaged, more than one night until two or three in the morning.

Highly recommended, even for those who aren't, like me, in love with rocks.


Bardiac said...

Have you read *Cod* and *Salt*? They're also good; like the book you described, they look at the way we people interact with something in the environment and use and misuse it.

Good stuff.

But I still love my paper books! How's the ipad for scholarly stuff?

zelda1 said...

I am getting the iPad for my birthday/Christmas present. I would already have it, but Mr.Zelda and I wait until New Year's to do our Christmas and birthday all at the same time. I, too, have been looking at the iPads and we decided that yes, it is so much more economical in not only money but also space and time. I cannot wait to see yours.

j0lt said...

You can also get a free nook app (the barnes & noble ebook app) for ipad. B&N's selection of free books is different than ibook or kindle, so it's nice to have all three.

delagar said...

J0lt -- I didn't know about the Nook! Thanks!

Zelda -- You're going to LOVE it!

delagar said...

Bardiac -- I haven't tried it on straight-up scholarly journals yet. I'm reading Coal and London Labour for work, but they're not journals, obviously.

Zelda will probably get to journals long before I will!

Karenne S said...

I saw this and thought of you:

Karenne S