Don’t Buy a Kindle. Here’s why.

I’ve been a loyal Kindle user since the beginning. I’ve owned about twelve Kindles, from the initial basic model, through the Paperwhite, to the Fire and all its incarnations.

And the Kindle is still fine for reading books. If you only want to read books, then the Paperwhite is a great experience.

This post is aimed at the tablets. If you want to use your Kindle as a general media device, for movies, email, games, shopping, as well as books, then it is an awful choice.

I haven’t decided on which tablet to buy next. All I’ve decided for sure is that it won’t be a Kindle. Here’s why.

1. Irrelevant notifications that can’t be dismissed

I do not own an Alexa device. I have never deliberately used Alexa in my life. Yet, for three months I’ve had a notification on my Kindle that says “Alexa Accessories.” This notification cannot be clicked. It cannot be dismissed. It’s just there.

2. The Amazon App Store lacks great apps

Amazon has done little to nothing to grow their app store. As such it is a graveyard of shovelware. Do you want the latest game from Nintendo? It’s not on Amazon. In fact very few great apps or games make it to the Amazon App Store. And the ones that do are buggy. The developers aren’t debugging the issues that come up exclusively for Amazon devices. They don’t care about the tiny audience.

3. The Amazon version of Android is buggy and ugly

The ultimate reason not to buy a Kindle tablet is that the operating system is garbage. It’s buggy, slow, and ugly. For months, there has been a bug where if you click a book on your device that isn’t the most recently read book, it will just open the most recently read book. For someone like me, who reads two books at once, this is incredibly frustrating. Also, if you play an audiobook, then power off the screen, the audiobook will continue playing briefly, then stop. When you log in to your device again, a totally different book will be on the screen.

Loyalty punished…

I guess part of what makes this so frustrating is that I have been a loyal customer for so long. I’ve used Amazon devices for over a decade. I’ve purchased movies, TV shows, games, and hundreds of books through Amazon devices. To have the ecosystem devolve into unusability and irrelevance is frustrating. I know I can get the Amazon media apps, and the Kindle reader app on my new devices. That is good, but I am sad to go.

Anyway, I hope this post helps to inform your shopping.

It’s really difficult to write about E. M. Forster

When I started getting into A Room with a View a few years back, I kept reading it over and over again. In each reading, I would find something new. Something would be changed, revealed, or transmuted into something new. It was fascinating. But there were still things that I didn’t understand. Some of the places and artiss were obscure. Some of the referenced literature was very obscure.

I started taking notes on the novel. Whenever I came across something that was obscured by distance, time, or education, I would look it up online and produce a little note to myself about it. Eventually, I had enough of these to think, ‘hey, I should share these with other people!’

That’s where things got tricky. After all, I don’t want to share spurious or incorrect notes. I want to share notes that increase the enjoyment of the book for casual readers and fans. But how can I know if one of my notes is incorrect? How can I be sure that what I’m pointing out isn’t very subjective or obvious?

So I thought I should at least read his other novels to get some context. I read his first novel first. Where Angels Fear to Tread is, in most respects, not a great novel. But it does begin to reveal Forster’s unique approach to realism. Next I picked up The Longest Journey. That book is truly boring. It was a slog to get through, and I don’t know how anyone enjoys it without knowing a lot about Forster’s biography.

Then I read The Machine Stops, which is fabulous and unique and ahead of its time. So I thought maybe Forster had a particular gift for short fiction? So I read all of his short fiction that was in collections (which I know now is not all his short fiction). It was excellent, but there wasn’t very much of it. So I went back to the novels. I finished with Howard’s End, A Passage to India, and Maurice, each of which is a masterpiece in its own way.

Then I went back to my original task. I could finally say something about Forster’s most popular book from a position of authority, right?

Well, no. I soon learned that Forster produced even more essays and non-fiction than he produced fiction. I read his guide to Alexandria, and some of his essay collections. I couldn’t get through it all, and some of his collections are difficult to acquire these days.

Then I thought I should read a biography. So I read Wendy Moffat’s excellent book.

At this point, I’m years away from my original task. I have more or less forgotten that I ever wanted to say anything about Forster and his most famous novel. Still, I’ve realized that he also wrote a lot of letters, and the selected letters are available in bound collections. I’m duty-bound to read them, right?

I read as much of the letters as I could, but I think you can see the problem. It’s really hard to say anything with authority about a writer who produced such a massive volume of words as EM Forster. The novels, essays, non-fiction, lectures, and letters amount to such a vast quantity of work that I would put it up against even the most fecund modern novelists. It’s unbelievable.

Then there’s the critics, biographers, and academics. I can see how a grad student could get very dis-heartened. How can you hope to add to the vast discourse on such a popular, beloved author? …

I don’t know if I will ever finish taking notes on A Room with a View (and now Forster’s other novels too). All I know at this point is that the journey has become the goal. Reading and studying Forster’s work and the work about Forster has become a little hobby of mine. Maybe I won’t ever say anything about Forster, but I’ll have a lot of fun not saying it!