It’s always surprised me just how much I love my Kindle. I have what I think is described as ‘issues’ when it comes to collecting print books — as in, I can’t stop — and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy reading on the Kindle. The thing is, though, I’ve come to see it not as a replacement for print books but rather just another medium for getting a story — like audiobooks, I suppose — and I’ll take a good story wherever I can find it.
My favourite thing about the Kindle is the level of privacy or secrecy in what you’re reading. That’s not so much because I give a toss if anyone judges me — I constantly judge people based on their reading habits, so I’m fine with being judged in return — but more because I’m quite (very) anti-social, especially on public transport, and I absolutely don’t want to give anyone an ‘in’ to talk to me.
I mean, I’m not quite sure what part of them thinks that’s okay anyway — OH HI! You don’t know me, but I just wanted to acknowledge the fact you’re currently reading a book I, myself, read thirteen years ago — actually preventing you reading it by talking to you about the contents of The Book I Won’t Let You Read for the duration of this journey and spoiling all the good bits. That guy dies in four pages. Dysentery.
I barely talk to my actual friends if we’re on a train together and if someone gets on that I recognise from work I immediately fake sleep. So please don’t assume we’ll be co-conversationalists for the next 45 minutes based on nothing more than: we’ve both read Watership Down.
“So, those hrududus, eh?”
By all means judge me for what I’m reading, just do it in utter silence, please.
If you think people don’t judge you, they do. Of course they do — you do, so why shouldn’t they? It’s said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (of course you should, the cover is part of the book) but I think it’s fine to judge a person by the books they read.
A few months ago — during my morning commute — there was a woman sitting opposite me reading Doctor Sax by Jack Kerouac. I haven’t read the book but I know of it and I’ve read some of Kerouac’s stuff. If I make the broad assumption that people tend to relate to their preferred authors based on their own experiences and personalities, I can make the leap that this woman perhaps has an interest in travel — thinking purely of Kerouac’s most celebrated book. That she’s reading this particular book suggests that she likes fantastical escapism and has a penchant for coming-of-age tales. I judged her to be imaginative, someone who doesn’t want or intend to waste her time doing the day-to-day stuff but would prefer to go and see — or simply imagine — much more than that.
Meanwhile, a bloke next to her was reading Scotland’s Jesus by Frankie Boyle so I judged him to be a twat.
It’s easy once you understand the science behind it.
My point is that people* (*I) can be judgemental. And there are few things that bring judgement on you quite as quickly and decisively as your religion or lack thereof. When I was reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins a couple of years ago, a man plonked himself down next to me on the tube and said, ‘Yeah fuck those guys, they’re mental.’
I had no idea whom he was talking about but he sure asked me for some money for booze eight seconds later.
Now. A while ago I decided to start reading The Bible — cover to cover. I know enough about its content to generally discuss it, but not enough that I can get in too deep. Religion’s a subject that I feel strongly about, so it makes sense that I should know of what I speak. There are a couple of problems with that, though. The first is that The Bible’s fucking huge. Like, proper massive. The second is that I don’t want to invite people to talk to me about it on the 06:47 train to Fenchurch Street. But if I learnt anything from the scrounger on the tube, it’s that people feel they can say what they like to you where religion is concerned.
So, I’m slowly working my way through the Bible on my Kindle and have thus far managed to remain un-heckled.
Like God, I got through Genesis in a week. It left more questions than it answered, if I’m honest — the biggest of which surrounds the story of Noah’s Ark.
I suspect it’s probably the most heavily questioned and derided story in Religion, and more insightful people than I have already argued over the logistics of one man shepherding two of every animal on Earth into a boat 300 cubits long, 75 cubits wide, and 45 cubits high.
Anyone who knows me should be able to confirm that there’s rarely a minute goes by in which I’m not thinking about food. If it had been me rather than Chewbacca walking through that forest on Endor with Luke and Han, we’d still have ended up in the net.
I read through the whole section in the bible on Noah, got to the end and thought, “Yeah but what did he eat?”
God’s pretty specific about what he wants on the Ark — he’s really very clear on its design. The detail’s all in there: all the dimensions, where he wants his windows, everything. You know what he doesn’t mention though? Food. If I was Noah, it would be my first question: Okay, two of everything — I got it — but just quickly, where should I put all these tins of baked beans with the little sausages submerged in them? Are we making a little room or…… ?
Noah saved the whole world — at the age of six hundred! I’m thirty-three and can’t move a table without going “hnnnnnnnnnngggghhhhhhohmyknees” — he survived the flood along with two of every single species (except dinosaurs because balls to those chumps) on a boat for ten and a half months, and the only thing I really care about is what he ate.
Noah: Ooooooooooooooooooookay, so that’s two dachsunds, two dalmations, two deer —
God: Gotta say it, Noah, you’ve done a bang-up job, mate. Bang-up.
Noah: Oh, stop! I was just doing my job. Two dingos —
God: Even so, I’m impressed. And I owe you an apology, too.
God: Yeah. After I did all that rain and shit I noticed a couple of my blueprints had got stuck together with jam —
Noah: … Two donkeys —
God: The pages had all the details about what you were going to do about food! I mean, you obviously sorted something out yourself, though…
Noah: Yeah we — we, um. It was tough but — um, two dormice —
God: Because of you, Noah, I will never again curse the ground of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is — shouldn’t there have been a couple of dodos?
Noah: What’s that now?
God: A couple of —
God: — dodos. There were definitely two —
God: Yeah. They went on after the dingos but before the donkeys.
Noah: Doesn’t ring any… Let me see now — nope, nothing on this list about do—
God: What’s that under your thumb?
God: What does it —?
God: “Dodos, Quantity x 2.” I thought so. Heh heh thought I was going mad for a minute. Heh.
Noah: Heh heh.
God: Where are they?
Noah: The… ?
God: Dodos. You know. They’re birds. They’re like, birds or something. But really fat and delicious-looking.
Noah: ………………………………………………………… Birds, you say? You know — I bet they flew away.
God: They’re flightless.
Noah: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh — errrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmm are you sure you’re not thinking of moas?
Noah: Yeah. Big, fat, succulent birds. Delicious-looking. Flightless. Definitely sounds like a moa.
God: Ah, maybe you’re right. My head’s all over the place at the minute. I’m sure I’ll know when I see the two moas we put on there.
Noah: …. Hmmmm?