My Dad’s Kindle

Yesterday I spent some of time with my step-mum going through some of my Dad’s things, and I came away with one of his old Kindles — I think the first one that he purchased, a third generation Kindle Keyboard; the same model that was also my first. I got mine as a birthday present back in 2011, and after a glowing email review and some photos from me — and an obligatory does it work with Linux? from him — a week later he’d bought one to match.

kindle keyboard
This is the Kindle Keyboard and I maintain it’s the best one because it nicely resembles Douglas Adams’ description of the Hitchhiker’s Guide: “[Ford Prefect] had a device that looked rather like a largish electronic calculator. This had about a hundred tiny flat press buttons and a screen about four inches square on which any one of a million “pages” could be summoned at a moment’s notice.”
I really loved my Kindle, and the amount of reading I did pretty much doubled overnight. I used it for a couple of years but then it met a sticky end when my partner (at the time) accidentally dropped and stood on it. For various reasons I didn’t get a new one, instead reading my ebooks on my iPad, or my phone, or not at all… I drifted back to paperbacks for a lot of my reading. So I’m really excited to have a Kindle again, and a nice old one that nostalgically matches my first one, and one that’s a reminder of my father, and all the hours he spent quietly happily reading.

I charged it last night and once it woke up, I saw that it still had a large collection of books loaded on it, neatly arranged into collections: 379 read books, 53 unread books, 79 abandoned books (including, I noted with a smile, a couple that I’d told him about). There’s probably close to a thousand books in his Calibre library, too.

When my dad retired early a couple of years ago, we wanted to know what he was going to do with all his newly found free time, to which he replied, “Catch up on my reading”. And he really meant it. A Kindle was pretty much never out of his hand (and a mug of tea never far from the other). He would get through hundreds of novels a year — my GoodReads feed would feature an update from him finishing a book every other day, it seemed.

I’ve always been grateful that reading was something my father and I shared, albeit at a distance. We both enjoyed it, we both talked books over a pint when we met up, but we liked very different things and rarely read the same book. The librarian in me would recommend him books I’d enjoyed, things that I thought he might like given the little bit of overlap we did share, but without fail he wouldn’t enjoy them. It worked both ways, though; he’d send me copies of some self-published sci-fi bundle and it would nearly always be dreadful.

An ebook collection might not be as romantic as a physical library, with the smell of dust and glue and interestingly aged pages, but it still has value. It’s what he collected over the years; there are choices and personality, likes and dislikes expressed there in the curation of it, and I’m glad that I can keep his digital library with me.

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