My Favorite Part of the Kindle: The Integrated Dictionary


Palimpsestcover_small 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

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  1. I'm personally not a big fan of Kindles. Books are simply too wonderful and sacred. Holding a digital device ruins the experience for me. Before I even saw a Kindle, I was very offended by the very idea of it. It also feels as if I don't actually own the book but merely the idea of it. Books last forever, and Kindles do not. I also find them to be too expensive. While the e-books you buy are indeed cheaper than the hardbacks, the paperbacks are still cheaper.

  2. I felt the same way as SRC noted before I got a nook for my birthday. Though I've never used the Kindle, I do think that the nook is better. I still agree that a book can never be replaced, but I know that all of us have probably gone to pack for a vacation and thought 'Oh crap! How do I decide which books to bring?' I'm a big fan of the nook for it's ability to carry thousands of books and not weigh a ton or take up a square mile of space. I LOVE the built in dictionary, the ability to highlight and take notes on what you're reading, the sodoku and chess, and most of all, the ability to buy a new book anywhere that has internet. I don't even need a traditional computer, thanks to the wi-fi connection on my nook, which also allows me to check my facebook, my email, and yes, my WEbook. My book list is over 5 pages long, so I love to pull up the cover art on my touch screen and scroll withough having to keep switching the pages. (plus it is uberfun to watch all the pretty pictures zoom by if you make them.) Though it doesn't have that signature sent of paper, glue, dust, and (sometimes) leather, it is so much more efficient. I still crack open a good paper and ink book whenever I get a chance, but for plane trips or even long waits at the dentist's, I love it. I say I love it more than the kindle because one day, my screen locked up. I ran down to the closest B&N and got it checked. I was out of the store with a fully functional nook in less than 10 minutes. Try doing that with a Kindle. Are you going to drive to that "Amazon store"? Nope. I'm not sure about Amazon, but B&N offers a different list of totally free books every day. Also, if something is in public domain, you can download it from anywhere (not just b&n) for free. I probably sound like a saleswoman, but I promise you I'm not. I'm just a person who enjoys her nook.
    PS. I've recently used the dictionary feature on mine to find the definition of swammerdamm.
    PPS. it means biologist. (Silly Edgar Allen Poe, you wack job genius.)


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