Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gaskell

My Kindle, My Friend


Yesterday, disaster struck.

Not real disaster. Not earthquake or cancer or fire or savage attack by rabid chimpanzees. Just the kind of disaster that occurs when you’re rich and safe and well cared for and ever-so-slightly spoiled.

The disaster was this: I broke my Kindle.

One minute, I was holding it carelessly in one hand, clicking through the pages of Elizabeth Gaskell’s “Wives and Daughters” in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, and the next minute, it had slipped through my fingers and was bobbling end over end through the air, no doubt helped along in speed and trajectory by my clumsy efforts to catch it. It came down, hard, on its face, making an alarming cracking sound against the arm of my chair. Heart in my throat, I turned it over and saw this:

Oh, no.

Oh, NO.

Oh, NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! (It took me a moment to realize I was actually moaning out loud and not just in my head. People around the waiting room were shifting surreptitiously to other chairs, as far away from the crazy woman as they could get.)

By the time Paul came out of the doctor’s office, I had made it through denial, anger, and bargaining, and was just revving up a good depression.  I refused to move on to acceptance.  I needed my Kindle.  I had saved up some of my Mad Money (if you don’t know, that’s like an allowance for grown-ups), and I demanded that we stop by Best Buy right that minute, on the way home, to replace my beloved and demised e-reader. But, like a reasonable person, Paul convinced me to wait and call Amazon customer service to see if they could get me a deal on a refurbished Kindle that wouldn’t cost so much.

As soon as we walked through the door at home, I was on the phone with an Amazon customer representative. I told her the whole sad story, pausing for her exclamations of sympathy, leaving out nothing (except maybe the moaning).

“I’m sorry you’re having a problem with your Kindle. We’ll get a replacement out to you right away,” she chirped cheerfully.

I blinked, stunned. “Excuse me, what?”

“We’ll send you out a new Kindle, free of charge. It should be there in two business days. All you have to do is mail your broken one back to us with the pre-paid shipping label I’m emailing to you now.”

I may have cried a little. I may also have thanked her no fewer than eight times, effusively, until she abruptly thought of somewhere else she should be and summarily ended the call.

How awesome is Amazon?

So… I’m anticipating the arrival of my 2nd Kindle and thinking about how quickly I have come to take for granted my e-reader’s constant presence at my side. I’ve reached for it several times today before remembering its temporary absence. Thanks to Amazon, though, all my purchases will be automatically synced to my second device, no fuss, no muss (thank you, cloud!), and I will once more have instant access to what is quickly becoming an extensive library. An extensive library that only weighs 9 ounces. (*Squee!*)

Which brings me to the second reason for writing this post (the first being to sing the praises of Amazon customer service): to share with you a list of some of my favorite FREE Amazon Kindle books. There are hundreds and hundreds of absolutely free books available for the Kindle. Many of them are so old that they have passed into public domain–most of the classics of literature fall into this category. Others are teaser offers by authors and publishers hoping to draw you into a series or get you hooked on a particular writer. I’m discovering new freebies all the time, but here are some of the best ones I’ve found so far:

1. All the Jane Austen novels: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Bliss. No matter how many times I’ve read them, my soul breathes a sigh of delight every time I slip back into Regency England for another lark with “the girls”.

2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. My parents gifted me with a giant hardback collection of Sherlock Holmes stories when I was a preteen, and I read through them in a week. They were like literary potato chips. I kept wanting just one more.

3. Little Women.  Which March girl are you?  I’d like to be a Beth, but I rather think I’m a Jo/Amy hybrid of some sort.  Read this for a sweet taste of sisterhood and family felicity that warms you through and through.

4. Wives and Daughters. Elizabeth Gaskell is an often overlooked author of the same ilk as Jane Austen. I also recommend her North and South (and the beautiful BBC adaptations of both novels!)

5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  Once more down the rabbit hole, into the topsy-turvy world of Wonderland.  For just a dollar or two more, you can get a version that includes the original illustrations, which this one, sadly, doesn’t.

6. The Fairy Books.  Assembled by Andrew Lang at the turn of the 20th century, these collections of fairy tales from all over the world are enchanting!  Be sure to pick up all the colors: Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Pink, Grey, Violet, Crimson, Brown, Orange, Olive, Lilac.

7.  Jane Eyre.  Charlotte Brontë’s magnum opus is bursting with all the romance, nobility of heart, and hope-filled redemption that is sadly lacking in the reprehensible characters and darker storyline of her sister’s Wuthering Heights (Sorry, Emily–not a fan.)  Jane is good, and sweet-natured, and more open of spirit than we might expect after reading of her harsh childhood.  Mr. Rochester is flawed, but not fatally, and somehow we grow to love him as Jane does.  Read this.  And sometime before or after, treat yourself to the delicious BBC film starring Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson.

8.  A Still Life With Murder.  This novel is #1 in the Nell Sweeney Mysteries series by P. B. Ryan.  A great pick up for mystery lovers. (H/T Angie Storms.)

9.  Einstein’s Refrigerator.  Funny and interesting stories about great names in history.  Nice for reading in waiting rooms and on public transportation–anytime you have a few minutes to fill.

10.  The Curse of the Holy Pail.  Move over, Stephanie Plum; there’s another brassy, sassy amateur detective in town!  Odelia Grey is a plus-size paralegal with a wicked sense of humor.  At least, that’s what the critics say.  You caught me!  I haven’t actually read this one.  I just downloaded it today after reading the reviews and finding that the publisher, Midnight Ink, is offering FREE downloads of this second book in the Odelia Grey series for the month of July only.  (The first book in the series, Too Big to Miss, is only $4.69.)

All right, fellow e-reader readers (that’s fun to say), what free (or inexpensive) books are you loving right now?


One last note: My main tool for sussing out whether or not I’d like to try a book I’ve never heard of is to look at the Amazon user reviews.  They are occasionally more entertaining than the books themselves.  Here’s a line I found today in a review for a fluffy supernatural fantasy romance:

“It was ok, in a twinkie-for-dinner kind of way.  You know what I mean.”

I do know what he means.  And I’m totally going to steal his line.