Last week, I started reading the book Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente on my Kindle. It's a beautiful and intricate novel about four strangers connected to one another through a strange, fairy tale like city that they can only visit in their dreams.
Valente is an intimidatingly skilled writer who describes the fantastic city using a vocabulary almost as astounding as the wild trains and floating houses that populate its streets. Consequently, there were a lot of words I didn't understand (including the title.)
Luckily, I was reading Palimsest on my Kindle and a bit on the Kindle app for my iPhone, both of which come with a built-in dictionary. For each mysterious word I read, I needed only to move my cursor (or finger, for the phone) over it and the definition popped up at the bottom of my screen—fast and easy. In each case, knowing the exact definition of the word, instead of guestimating it, made my reading experience richer.
For many other books, this feature wouldn't have been as crucial. A stray word that leaves me reaching for a dictionary isn't a big deal. However, Valente uses so many off-beat words that if I hadn't had the built in dictionary, I would have either disrupted my reading experience with repeated dictionary safaris, or stopped looking them up altogether. In either case, I know I would not be enjoying Palimpsest nearly as much as I am on my Kindle.
So, while I can sympathize with the physical book enthusiasts at times, this was a situation where the Kindle gave me a noticeably better reading experience. I liked this, and I'm excited to see what new features e-readers bring to the reading experience in general as the technology continues to improve.
That's my two cents. Anyone had a similar experience? Other Kindle features you like? Any that you hate?
P.S. In case you were curious, here are some of the words (and definitions) that I had to look up:
1. A manuscript, typically of papyrus or parchment, that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and often legible.
2. An object, place, or area that reflects its history.
1. To leap about playfully; frolic.
1. characterized by vehemence, clamour, or noisiness
2. making an outcry or loud noises; clamorous
1. of or relating to reversion to a former or more primitive type
1. Of, relating to, or being a speech sound produced by complete closure of the oral passage and subsequent release accompanied by a burst of air