Sunday, December 6, 2015

Reading, Unlimited

The latest book that I've read is the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo.

The woman isn't kidding.

I've always been very lax about tidying up. I have enough househelp for that sort of thing, and Vijay and I have been both hoarders. With three messy kids about the house drawing on walls and generally wreaking havoc and destruction, we had a sort of unspoken agreement: when they're 18 and move out, we'll clean up properly.

This book changed that.

Marie Kondo has devised a simple but very effective methodology of cleaning up - essentially, you lay out ALL your belongings in a particular category on the floor, and then sort through them one by one to choose the ones that really ''spark joy'' in you. Yes, yes, I know it's a little la-la-la-whatever, but it certainly worked for me.

My biggest problems have been my clothes and my books. The house was full of them, shelves overflowing - and with Peanut starting to become a big reader, we easily had more than 500 books in the house.

This was a problem.

Especially given that many, many of them just lay unread.

Don't get me wrong. I think books are beautiful. I'd love one day to have a huge house with a library of its own. But this exercise, which I conducted over one day ( managing to do both books and clothes) was very therapeutic.

This was my pile.

That's a lot of books, hey?

So basically, cut a long story short, I gave away about 60%. It was actually 70% but the mistake I made was keeping the discard 'pile' for too long. So I ended up taking some of them out and putting them back, but I don't regret it - I just asked myself what kind of books I wanted Peanut to be able to read when she grows up a bit more, even if I never got around to reading them. So a whole bunch made it back to my shelf. Twilight, the series, stayed outside.

The other thing that I've discovered of late is that Kindle really makes things a lot easier. I was one of those who believed BIG time in the magic of the good-old-traditional book, and I still think that's a different feeling altogether. I find that reading non-fiction on my Kindle makes a huge difference and most of my reading in the last few years has been on non-fiction as a category (yes, including, the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up!)

So when I figured there was something called Kindle Unlimited, I was pretty curious - a subscription service for Rs.199 and you get access to a million books? Sounded a little too good to be true.

Turned out it wasn't what I had imagined, about being able to greedily run about like a kid in a candy store, filling up a sack to be able to devour at home later. But it's pretty cool either way - first of all, what is Rs.199. Hint - it was the launch price of my first book 'Just Married, Please Excuse' and my latest 'There's Something About You' sells for less than that! Kidding, couldn't resist. But that's not the point. The point is that we end up paying more for a coffee or a sandwich in many places. So for a month-long subscription to what is basically a HUGE lending library, with the convenience of browsing while sitting in your pajamas, it's not a bad deal at all.

How it works is that you basically sign in to your Amazon account and buy a subscription. That's it. And then you get to browse, choose and 'borrow' upto ten books at a time. My greedy-kid-in-a-candy-store rebelled at the thought of having to choose just ten at a time, but the past month or so has told me you really do not need more than that (how much can you multi-read anyway?).

I think there's something to be said for discovery through the Kindle Unlimited Program. It does get a little disappointing when a specific book that you REALLY want to read isn't a part of the library. On the other hand, if you search by a favourite author, there are chances you'll come upon some work of theirs that you haven't read. I don't find it very easy to discover by genre, but maybe that's because I've not really explored the same actively. I'd love for more personalized suggestions to come my way rather than always seeing what is most popular.

As an author, I have mixed feelings about the whole 'book-stores shutting down' thing. It's saddening to see those businesses die out particularly because the whole 'browsing' phenomenon was what led you to discover new books, which is so important. But given that we're clearly going digital and there's no going back, I think Kindle Unlimited is a pretty cool way to 'browse'. Also - you may not need to clean out your books in quite such a dramatic fashion in the future.

Mixed feelings about the whole phenomenon in totality.

But Kindle Unlimited: entirely worth a shot. Go for it.

All the price of a cup of (good) coffee. 

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