Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga

This novel, after it won Brooker prize, had generated so much news that I had to read it. Time for that came recently. It's a nice novel. Light read. At least for me, it did not come across as something that is going to haunt for a long time. You know it is in the same league as one of those books you buy at the airport, read it on the plane and never think about it again.

Aravinda Adiga has been a familiar figure to me because he used to write for Money magazine. I have been a subscriber for Money magazine for long time. Always used to wonder who this guy is. Due to his last name, it was clear that he is from the same state in India as I am from - Karnataka. After he wrote this novel and won Brooker prize, many details started coming out about him. No wonder there was an India, Karnataka, Mangalore connection for this Adiga.

Novel is a pretty neat one. Story of a village boy who become a car driver of a rich boss, experiences life very differently than rest of his folks and then ultimately starts some business supporting larger outsourcing industry. That's it. This story has been told nicely. India has been described vividly especially for those who never visited or understood India and rapid changes in last few years. It seemed to me like that movie 'Slum Dog Millionaire'. Tell a simple story using raw image of India. Looks like rawness sells. May be.

Good read.


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Amazon Kindle

Amazon.com is not paying me anything to write this:)

Do you like to read? Then you may really like e-book reader from Amazon.com called Kindle.  I got this device couple of weeks back. Amount of reading I have gotten done in these two weeks is probably more than what I would  read in 2-3 months. Easily. It's a different matter about the usefulness of all that I read. But, still :) I have been reading so much on Kindle that reading has taken priority over blogging. I would probably need a few weeks to write, even briefly, about all the books I read and reading.

For me Kindle is really useful for several reasons. First, Text-To-Speech feature. Most the e-Books have this and Kindle makes use of it. When reading paper books, I get bored after a 30 minutes or so. Mind wanders. Needs a break. It is difficult to keep going. With Kindle, just ask it to read it for you. When your interest comes back, you can stop that and read it yourself. Text-To-Speech feature is well developed in Kindle. It does not sound like some Robot reading. Pretty neat.

Secondly, the regular 6" Kindle I have is excellent for speed reading. In speed reading, we are taught to scan as opposed to reading word by word. Scanning and reading in whole as opposed to reading word by word works best when your area of coverage is small. Kindle screen is best suited for it. With large fonts, there are like 10-15 short lines that fit into the screen. Very easy to scan and speed read. You can skip easily when there is not much substance.

OK, e-Books cost money. Although there are several thousand free e-Books available, if you want to read latest books, you will have to pay. Good thing is a lot of books on Amazon.com are $10 or less. This is like more than 50% saving over paper book price. On top of it, you will get the book instantly using free wireless connectivity that is part of the Kindle's price. Amazon.com itself has several old books, that are free. You can Google and you will find several sites with free e-books.

You can convert most of your standard word, PDF etc. documents to Kindle format using several free tools available. Mobipocket Creator is the tool that I use. OK, these converted documents may not be as slick as professionally crafted e-Books with features like jump to page, scanning for words etc. But, you can read them easily and comfortably. This is a great advantage if you have access to online libraries like Safari.Com. My employer provides full access to Safari.Com. My membership allows limited number of full downloads. So, I can download latest books, in full, as a PDF from Safari.com, convert the PDF and transfer it to Kindle. This way, I have avoided buying some books. Connection to computer is through USB and works without any problem.

All in all a great gadget especially if you like to read. There is absolutely nothing not to like about Kindle. If you like to read a lot, get one for yourself. Of course, if you want to study seriously, then nothing beats paper book. But, if you want to read broadly for knowledge and/or entertainment, then reading on Kindle will get you more reading done in less time.

Kindle is still quite pricey. Price has come down quite a bit over last one year. Also, make sure you search for refurbished Kindles. Amazon.com itself sells refurbished Kindles. You can get them for like 30% less than brand new Kindle.  Refurbished ones are as good as new ones as long as they are sold by Amazon.com itself.  Be careful if you are planning to buy a second-hand one from a third party.

Cheers and happy reading!

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