My idea of sweet decadence is reading a good book over a cup of strong coffee in a beautiful place. Clearly, if all Americans got their kicks this way, Las Vegas would still be a desert.
So there I was last week on the porch of a cabin on a shimmering lake in the Adirondacks, binging on Edith Wharton novels. Wharton, a searingly honest social observer, trained her laser vision on America’s upper crust society in the late 1800s, exposing the rigid social mores that kept women in gilded cages.
My husband doesn’t understand my fascination with writers like Wharton and Jane Austen, who wrote with great insight and wit about English gentility in the early 1800s. When we’re picking DVDs to rent, his plaintive request is always, “Please, nothing with carriages.”
So while I’m living in the past with some of my choices in literature, I’m debating whether to embrace the future of Kindle, Nook and other e-readers that allow you to read electronic books on a small screen computer tablet.
This week, Bethlehem Area Public Library started offering a service called Overdrive.com that allows library members to borrow e-books to read on their Nooks, iPads or Sony readers and audio books for iPods and MP3 players.
The service will also be available to members of libraries in Nazareth, Hellertown and Northampton who come in for a Bethlehem Area Public Library card, according to Gail Reichard, a Bethlehem Area library technician. The library’s e-books are currently incompatible with the Kindle, which is an Amazon e-reader, Reichard said.
For those patrons who aren’t sure they can ever love an e-reader enough to buy one, the Bethlehem library has three Nooks and a Sony e-reader it plans to lend out, she said.
Parkland Community Library also lends e-books, including 170 titles of fiction, according to Maryellen Kanarr, adult services librarian. Cardholders can try out a Sony e-reader on library premises.
I asked a couple of enthusiastic Kindle owners what they like about e-readers. Barbara Katz, a pediatrician with ABC Family Pediatricians, said she enjoys being able to download a book anytime. Katz said she’s able to bring lots of e-books on vacation with her and still only take carry-on luggage on a flight. “I have no more eyestrain with my e-reading than I do reading books,” she said in an e-mail.
That’s true too for Jenni Levy, medical director of St. Luke’s Hospice in Bethlehem. Levy said she reads most of her Kindle e-books on her iPhone and iPad. She bought the Kindle for a trip out West that included a 36-hour train ride.
“I read quickly so two cross-country flights plus two days on a train meant carrying 10 or 12 books …With the Kindle, I could take every book I wanted and then buy more if I changed my mind,” she said.
Being able to adjust the type size and read at night with the backlit screen has also come in handy.
Sounds like everything you need for some serious binge reading.