The Amazon Kindle

Before flying to visit family for the holidays my wife and I got an Amazon Kindle e-book reader and we’ve since thought about getting another one. We own the Wi-Fi-only edition but the 3G edition’s expanded capability is tempting, especially when the other one of us is using ours. It is not exaggerating to say that the Kindle has changed our lives, or at least our reading lives.

For starters, it has motivated us to limit ourselves to e-book purchases only. Since getting the Kindle, we’ve downloaded about a dozen sample chapters from books we considered buying and have bought four of them, largely based on our ability to sample them first. And the cost savings has been amazing. For softcover books whose retail prices each average about $15, we only spent about half that.

Another big benefit of the Kindle has been the ability to order books whenever the mood strikes us [within distance of a hotspot], including at Starbucks, our office, the bedroom, and yes, even the bathroom! It is awesome to be able to download a full-length book in less than a minute and start reading it immediately, no matter where you are.

And with our move to digital reading, we are maintaining the mobile lifestyle by donating hundreds of little-used books left over from my days as a book review editor. With fewer books comes less need for bookshelves, so we sold most of them, downsizing from a total of 30 to 13. Even before getting the Kindle we cut back on traditional book buying, but if you’ll pardon the pun, it is “fuel for the fire.”

Outlive Your Life

Bestselling author Max Lucado has another blockbuster hit on his hands with his latest book titled Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference. With his finger firmly on the pulse of today’s reading public, Lucado stresses the value of living for more than the next paycheck or pleasure cruise by using the biblical book of Acts as the roadmap for living a life of dynamic faith.

Lucado reminds readers that Acts is the one book of the Bible still being written today in the sense that believers are commissioned to continue doing the works of Jesus and His contemporaries. His signature conversational style makes his latest title a pleasure to read also and its meaningful message of living with eternity in mind makes one think of how to better live the one life each of us has been given.

With poignancy and passion Lucado challenges readers to look beyond themselves and their circumstances toward a selfless life filled with good deeds done in the name of Christ and His cause: “Here’s a salute to a long life. Goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath. May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Less is More

As I have been planning my year, I’ve reflected about how little I actually need to enjoy life, particularly as it applies to my library. I love books but I estimate that I presently own more than one thousand volumes, half of which I’ve never read and a quarter of which I’ll likely never read. With that said, I have made it my regular practice to clear out books in the latter category to make room for ones in the former and to create space for new acquisitions rather than buy more bookshelves.

Alas, with the big annual used book sale coming to my hometown this weekend, I am challenged to discipline myself anew. But what I’ve actually been considering lately is drastically reducing the number of volumes in my library so that virtually all the books I own are ones that I’ve either read or realistically plan to read in the foreseeable future.

Regarding my philosophy of “less is more,” I recently read a relevant posting by Richard Watson on the Fast Company Blog: “One of the key challenges for the twenty-first century will be how to cope with the almost infinite amount of information that will be produced. According to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, one of the most valuable skills in the future will thus be the ability to select and synthesize information. This in turn means the ability to develop criteria for filtering what’s valuable and what’s not will become highly prized.”