Thursday, June 16, 2011

Guest Post: Annoyed By Books!

Annoyed By Books in action

Hi dear readers, Amused here. No you didn't read that title wrong! I am thrilled to invite my boyfriend here today, Annoyed By Books, to talk to you all today about how the Kindle has changed his feelings towards books. I wrote a post in January of this year entitled 'Why I'm Glad I bought my boyfriend a Kindle for Christmas, but I still don't want one' and the feeling still holds true in this house. In the comments of that post, many of you asked for him to write about the books he has since read. Well after much cajoling, he has now written up some reviews and other thoughts and if you like, there will be more to come! So without further ado ...

I don't like books. They bother me for a number of reasons. Reading is an activity that ranks either just above, but probably below, cleaning the litter box of a sick cat on my list of things I could do with my free time. Every once in a while I’d pick one up based on a glowing recommendation but even that stopped thanks to Oprah and James Frey.

Growing up, reading was punishment or something I had to do in order to get to what I wanted to do, which was watch TV. My high school even assigned a summer reading list and administered a test on the books at the beginning of each year. Given that I was a lousy reader to begin with, it meant starting each school year with an impossible test asking questions about themes I didn’t pick up on and details I couldn’t remember. By by senior year, I wised up and didn’t bother even cracking The Great Gatsby during the summer break because I knew I would fail the test anyway.

Bad vision certainly doesn’t make reading a relaxing, fun experience. Rather, it’s a frustrating exercise of finding enough light and positioning my head and reading glasses just so, such that I can make out the micro print used by publishers to save a nickel on paper. Also my eyes get tired really fast so by the time I’m positioned, comfortable, and remember where I was in the book last time I looked at it, I need to shut my eyes and let them rest for a while.

Let’s not forget about the judgement factor. Maybe this is all in my head but reading publicly is not something I like to do. I’ve lived in fashion and trend-conscious/setting neighborhoods of San Francisco and New York for over 8 years now (out of convenience, mostly, but the food’s pretty good, too). Every once in a while I can convince the hipsters that my 90’s clothing is retro and ironic but I know I’m not reading the right books.

Until this year, I was down right aggravated by books. That’s not to say I’ve hated everything I’ve read. And I enjoyed reading things that teach me how things and people work. While Million Little Pieces is the last piece of pure fiction I’ll ever read, I did like Hemmingway and Hubert Selby Jr. a lot. However, with the vision problems, obnoxious literati scensters, generally being a bad reader, the piles of books that belong to an avid reader I must tiptoe around mocked me, books were for keeping my drinks off the furniture and really nothing else.

Thanks to the Kindle, I’m no longer aggravated by books, just annoyed by them.

I’m still a terrible and slow reader, but reading has become less of a chore with a Kindle. The magnetic ink is really easy on the eyes and clear under the bright light I need to read. I couldn’t tell you where the nearest bookstore is and it was less than I year ago that I found out I live 2 blocks from a library. In fact, I remember several years before being buzzed at a party next door and wondering what the heck the big grey building was on which I was leaning. Since I have the 3G Kindle, I can buy books, magazines and newspapers whereever I am. The selection is somewhat limited, especially periodicals, and the prices vary wildly from bargain to are-you-kidding-me? But I have a bad memory. It’s nice to be able to buy a book when I think of it rather than try to remember the title for the next time I get tricked into going to a bookstore or, lord help me, the library.

The Kindle easily allows me to set the font size and even allows switching between portrait and landscape. People often ask why I didn’t get an iPad so let me address that now. I like the iPad a lot. But I wouldn’t use one as a reader because I’m easily distracted. I would way too easy switch from a boring section of a book to playing Angry Birds or watching questionable content on a NSFW website. Also, the screen wears my eyes out really fast and the battery life doesn’t compare with the Kindle’s. As a PDF viewer, it comes up a little short, mostly because it is tough to navigate when zooming in; a drawback to the way Kindle displays images and text.

Overall, I’m a huge fan of the Kindle. Besides making buying and reading books painless, you can download some free games, it has a modest web browser and, if you like, allows you to share titles you’ve finished on Facebook and Twitter. It also has a screen reader for blind users but it sounds very robotic.

Now for some reviews!

In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks: … And Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy  Author: Adam Carolla
Synopsis: In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks is Adam's comedic gospel of modern America. He rips into the absurdity of the culture that demonized the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, turned the nation's bathrooms into a lawless free-for-all of urine and fecal matter, and put its citizens at the mercy of a bunch of minimum wagers with axes to grind. Peppered between complaints Carolla shares candid anecdotes from his day to day life as well as his past—Sunday football at Jimmy Kimmel's house, his attempts to raise his kids in a society that he mostly disagrees with, his big showbiz break, and much, much more. Brilliantly showcasing Adam's spot-on sense of humor, this book cements his status as a cultural commentator/comedian/complainer extraordinaire.

Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Author: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Synopsis: Economics is often regarded as the study of dry, uninteresting financial trends and market developments, but Steven Levitt’s groundbreaking work in the field reveals that the tools of economic research can be put to use in the study of the relationships that underlie the events and problems that we encounter and hear about every day. In Freakonomics, Levitt and his co-author, journalist Stephen Dubner, offer a survey of some of the most interesting research topics Levitt has tackled during his career.

Annoyed's Thoughts: It’s fitting to review these books together since both ask questions about human behavior and offer some tools to navigate life. Carolla uses sharp wit and personal stories while Levitt and Dubner use piles of data. Both are engaging and entertaining as well and made me happy to read again after my four year hiatus.

I have been a huge Carolla fan for many years so I was excited to read his book. I was not disappointed in the least. The book contains many well-crafted rants, many that I’ve heard before, as well as some good tips that are worth incorporating. I’ll admit I had to put it down from time to time because I found myself getting angry at the world in ways that I never imagined. I thought I was a world-class complainer but Carolla’s gift is to point out things that are very annoying that you never knew were annoying. Fortunately, the book is very funny so the bile gets blown off rather quickly and the book finishes warm and fuzzy compared to where it begins. A couple times I did find myself rolling my eyes and shaking my head (though still kind of laughing) but I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes Carolla’s work or found the Man Show to be a light-hearted male oriented comedy and not a misogynistic free-for-all.

Freakonomics on the other hand is a book that everyone should read. I realize that this book has been read by many people already so I’ll keep it short. Levitt and Dubner do a fantastic job using data to answer some strange questions, all studying how people get (or try to get) what they want. The book is somewhat disjointed but asserts up front that there is no unifying theme. For someone with my attention span, this is perfect. I found the chapters about the propagation of children's names and why drug dealers live with their moms to be the most interesting. This book was somewhat controversial because Levitt and Dubner make a compelling case that the legalization of abortion led to a drop in crime in the 90’s.

The narratives get a little formulaic after a while. That is the author's pose a question, suggest a possible solution based on common wisdom, then examine data and analysis that disproves that common wisdom. I do think this is a very interesting book to read because the authors successfully get you asking questions. You certainly don’t have to be a number crunching geek to enjoy this book. Levitt did the data analysis and provides simple but convincing arguments that make you see things a little differently.

Thank you so much for writing this guest post Annoyed By Books and if you all enjoyed it to, I can probably cajole him to come back for more!


  1. Very good review on the Kindle and I really enjoyed reading your post!
    (nice shirt Rob):)

  2. So I can see a couple of typos and the editor clearly misspelled libary. Sorry about that.

  3. I am so impressed that you got your bf to write a post and review. So maybe that would be the trick, go my bf a

    Great reviews Annoyed

  4. Evidently libraries aren't just for books anymore. :-D That library story cracked me up.

  5. I hope Annoyed comes back to guest-post again - or that you post together every now and then! You're an interesting mix :-).

  6. I knew there was someone out there the Kindle is perfect for. I'm just glad he's annoyed at books in general and not yours specifically.

  7. The guest post was interesting and humorous. Annoyed should post again. I'm considering buying a Kindle for my wife and Annoyed endorsement convinced me to do it. Annoyed is very witty and seems to have a very special sense of humor.

  8. Annoyed should have his own blog!

  9. Loved this post and getting Annoyed;s perspective on reading and the Kindle. I LOVE my Kindle, but don't use it enough. Honestly, thought I wish I had the $$ to convert all my books (well most) to eBooks, as it is way easier on the eyes.

  10. Well, I don't think a Kindle is going to make The Hub want to read anytime soon. He just does not like to read at ALL. I don't know how this issue was ignored pre-marriage, but it was.

    However, I LOVE my Kindle. I just wish they'd update all software for all models at the same time. Seems unfair that only the newest model gets the update.

    Great post.

  11. Very interesting. I have an iPad that I love because it is more of a reader and fulfills more than one of my many needs. I'm thinking about getting my boyfriend an iPad or a kindle to encourage him to read more. Maybe it will work. I doubt he will ever love books the way that Ido but just seeing him read more would make me happy.

  12. When I hear "I don't like books" I usually get annoyed, but this post was so good I got over it. It's nice to read a non-reader's take on the Kindle. Still haven't broken down & bought one, but someday :)


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