Big Brother Book Club: The Kindling

A few weeks back, we decided the time had come to take the Kindle out in public. We hadn’t seen any out there in the world yet, but damned if we were going to relegate it to the coffee table and keep dragging hardcovers around in the old shoulder bag. The only problem with this is that the Kindle, in this early-adoption stage, invites interruptions from strangers. “What is that?” “I’ve never seen one of those before.” “What are you doing?”

This has been interesting for two reasons: one, if you’ve never heard of the Kindle, you must not spend large portions of your days online reading publishing-oriented websites, and for that, we salute you. Two, people who have never heard of Kindle think it’s cool when they see ours and we explain it. No one on the subway or the Bolt Bus has expressed the suspicion and vitriol towards the device that has cropped up on the Internet since it’s introduction. So Amazon? How’s about you start shelling out for our monthly Metrocard, in exchange for the valuable viral marketing service we’re providing? Finally, just last night, we saw another Kindle on the F train. It was all we could do to keep from accosting this fellow and claiming kinship. Despite what we’ve said before, and what Joanne Kaufman said in last Sunday’s Times, we could actually see what he was reading: The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad. Not our favorite, we confess, but still: rock on, brother!

But back to books in print. Riding the rails this week, we spotted Always Looking Up, by everyone’s favorite stem-cell research advocate and time traveler Michael J. Fox, and Per Petterson’s widely praised Out Stealing Horses, which is most definitely on our summer reading list. We saw She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb and wonder if we were the only ones who hated that book and if something might be horribly wrong with us because of it. We did like “Come Undone” by Duran Duran in middle school. Does that count?

Perhaps in honor of the PEN World Voices festival, there were a few internationally-themed books in the subways: Havana by Stephen Hunter, London Fields by Martin Amis, and I’m A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away by Bill Bryson.

Last but far from least, we keep bumping into Todd Zuniga, founder of the Opium endeavors: Magazine, Live interview series, and the Literary Death Match. Are we being stalked? If so, at least he’s got good taste: we found him on a train to the Lower East Side clutching Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower.