It shouldn't surprise any of us how popular e-readers are today. They've become one of the most popular gifts this holiday season-- and with good reason. The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are amazing gadgets, not to mention their e-ink black and white cousins and the various other tablets and the iPad. But now that they're out of the box, what to do with them? My personal Odyssey ended with opening my Nook Tablet this Christmas. Here are some suggestions of books and apps you may not have immediately thought of.
God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut by Bryan Young This has been a great breakout year for Bryan, whose Lost at the Con I called "required summer reading for geeks." God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut contains both the first chapter of this novel and a collection of fiction and non-fiction essays that all tie in to the author's love of the works of Kurt Vonnegut. Like when The Beatles used to put out an album just for Christmastime, this can seem a bit uneven--then again, Beatles for Sale is one of my favorite albums of all time.
Young displays here both his depth as a writer and passion for the art itself--much of which he traces back to Kurt Vonnegut. In a chapter devoted to teachers, Young recounts both experiences in his own public schooling and his feelings for Vonnegut as a passive teacher of sorts. Young also touches on the incredibly personal and political, recounting painful dealings with the US "health care system." There's a little bit of everything in here. And something for everyone. And at $3.99, it's hard to go wrong. Available for Kindle here and Nook here.
Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It by Lawrence Lessig Perhaps one of the most important books you can read this year. Most people will look at Washington and say things are broken. Some are even more prescient and talk about how "the money" is the problem. But it takes a mind as beautiful as Lessig's to specifically, correctly diagnose the problem in a way which is irrefutable. That is why this book is so important. Lessig also goes beyond the typical hand-wringing to actually offer an intriguing solution to this problem, but I'll let him tell you about that as you download it for your Nook or Kindle. Also, check out Lessig on The Daily Show in a two-part interview.
Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl Did you get an e-reader for Hanukkah? Or searching for some greater meaning in the holidays which have devolved into so much commercialism? (the pinnacle of which may be your e-reader?) Read or re-read this classic from Frankl as he recounts his survival of Auschwitz, the dehumanization that occurred there, and the greater search for meaning in all of it. While not a light read, it is one that leaves you feeling better coming out of it. And hey-- for less than $7 you can really class up your reading selections. Kindle version here and Nook here.
COMIC BOOKS!!! Come on. Why did you buy a color e-reader if you weren't going to take full use of it? Unfortunately, because of one of the most hilarious and unfortunate format wars of the past few years, you options are somewhat limited. If you got a Kindle, Amazon offers you some of the best graphic novels from DC Comics around-- Watchmen, Batman: Year One, Kingdom Come, All-Star Superman just for starters. For Nook customers (like me) you have a huge assortment of Marvel comics (which suits me fine, as I am much more of a Marvel than a DC): Civil War (includes the Death of Captain America), Ultimate Spiderman, Avengers Disassembled, Captain America Reborn, Wolverine: Old Man Logan, and more. Nook also has The Walking Dead available in the app store.
And last, but not least, think about whether you should Root your Nook. What the heck does that mean? If you're asking yourself that question-- this may not be for you. Rooting means making some major modifications to your software so that you can have more toys to play with on your e-reader. I know, I know-- it's shiny and just out of the box, why should I do something that could potentially turn this into a brick, void my warranty, and so on? Because you're missing out. There are literally tens of thousands of apps available in the Android Marketplace that will run on regular Android operating system (which the Nook is based in) which are not available for Nook. And a lot of them are free, unlike the apps in the Nook store. But as radical or off-the-wall as it sounds, rooting has a legion of fans ever since people started doing it to the Nook Color last year. If you have a Kindle, I hope you like it-- Amazon disabled the ability to root your Fire with their last software upgrade. Use your favorite search engine to get more info on the ins and outs of rooting.
Enjoy your e-reader! And remember, despite all the bells and whistles and Angry Birds and Netflix that we can have on our new toys, they are readers. Feast upon books. And a very merry holidays to you and yours.