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The joys of an Amazon Kindle app

January 23, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
The Internet has changed me as a reader as well as a writer, not always in the best ways.

I realized the other day that I haven't read a traditional paperback book in months. Instead, I download books from Amazon or Barnes and Noble onto an app on my iPad. This is all too easy to do, probably too easy since I spend more money than I might otherwise. Amazon has gathered a great deal of information about my reading and viewing preferences over the years and is always ready with a list of helpful suggestions about what I might want to download next. The site is usually right about what author or genre of book I most enjoy. I can't complain too much about the loss of privacy there, though on other sites I might, because I have willingly given them all that information.

I don't suppose it matters overmuch that Amazon or the rest of the world knows that I have a fondness for well-written historical mysteries, with an emphasis on an English setting in the Regency period, the Victorian era or the period just after the First World War. There are probably a large number of former English majors just like me who swooned over Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte and eat up Downton Abbey with a spoon. If the Amazon website calculates that I will like the same books and movies that other people with my background like, that's fine with me.

I've just finished reading one of the Daisy Dalrymple mysteries by Carola Dunn, set in 1920s England. Daisy is an aristocrat, a magazine writer, and the wife of a police detective who would really rather that she not interfere in his police investigations. Somehow, Daisy always seems to be the one to find the body and gets involved in spite of herself. She also usually manages to solve the mystery. The series, which has 14 or 15 books now, is engaging, with likeable characters and a lot of period detail. Also on my list of books to read is Laurie R. King's "Garment of Shadows," starring Mary Russell, the young wife of an elderly Sherlock Holmes, in post WWI England. Anna Dean has a series of mysteries about Dido, an old maid in early Victorian England who solves mysteries and bears a strong resemblance to Jane Austen. I'm halfway through her second book in the series: "A Gentlemen of Fortune: Or, the Suspicions of Miss Dido Kent."

Amazon also helpfully sends me e-mail alerts so I know when a book I might be interested in will be coming out. C.S. Harris writes a series about a Regency-era nobleman, action hero and mystery solver called Julian St. Cyr, who has a very complicated personal life involving a former mistress who turns out to be his stepsister and a feminist wife who is the daughter of his deadly enemy. Amazon just told me that Harris's latest book will be coming out in March. I will download it.

Then I look at the images of book covers on my Kindle app and realize that I still have a number of books I haven't even got around to reading. I still read a lot, of course, but I spend a lot of time reading online newspapers and news blogs and informational websites, mostly nonfiction. But when I do get around to reading one of those books on my Kindle app, I remember all over again how much I love to read and think that I really ought to do it more often.


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