So I’ve been participating in the GoodReads 2012 reading challenge. So far, I’ve read 55 novels / novellas this year. That’s pretty amazing, but I have to back this up a bit to explain why.
As I’ve mentioned before (either here or in other places online) I deal with a lot of health issues, including rheumatoid arthritis. Last year I tried signing up for something like 100 books, and I didn’t come close to making it (I got 45). Partway through the year, about the time I was rereading the A Song of Ice and Fire books (because I was inspired by watching the first season of the show on HBO), my arthritis got so bad that I couldn’t hold a book (especially one as thick and heavy as Martin’s) while managing to turn the pages. My hands just ached too much, it was just too painful. I tried small paperbacks like the old Anne McCaffrey Dragonriders of Pern books, and even those were too much. Add to that, my reading ability had already been diminished by nausea due to my medications and degrading vision.
Then a miracle happened. Some dear, dear friends sent me a Nook Color as a gift. I can literally say, without being the slightest amount trite, that this device has changed my life. While I still was dealing with the nausea, I was able to hold the Nook for long periods of time without much pain and get back into reading. I went through Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series like a breeze (and her books are about on par with Martin’s for thickness!), rereading the ones I’d gone through before and catching up on the new ones I hadn’t read. I was able to borrow books from the library again, without having to worry about whether or not someone was going to be able to drive them back to the library before they became overdue (assuming I had finished them in the first place…), and I was able to do it at 2am in my pajamas without leaving the house. And I was finally able to get to reading some of the ebooks from my friends who write (because I’ve never been able to read books on the computer). The last 20 books that I read last year? They were ones that I read on my Nook. Just under half the books I read were in the last few months of the year, because it didn’t hurt anymore.
I debated for a little while, but after some research to ensure I could do no permanent damage, I went ahead and rooted the device so that I could run Android applications not available in B&N’s (very limited) market. Not all of them have played nicely with B&N’s tweaks to Android for the Nook, but most of them run flawlessly. I can read Kindle books on my Nook (although I usually buy from B&N instead, this is handy for snagging free reads). I can log into World of Warcraft’s guild chat to socialize with my friends when I hurt too much to sit up and play. I can use Trillian to instant message with my wife in the other room because I can’t get up and walk to talk to her in person (or, for that matter, stand long enough to have a decent conversation). Or I can respond quickly to people from my work messaging me for help. I can check my email so that I can respond to work and personal emails promptly throughout the course of the day even when I can’t sit up and use the desktop or the laptop. I can keep tabs on Facebook to avoid feeling socially isolated by my disability. I can keep up with some of the forums I participate on, especially Romance Divas which has a great mobile theme to make using the site easier on a tablet. And listening to music via Spotify is quite nice. 🙂
Now, some of this I also do on my Droid phone that belongs to my work, too. Typing is certainly easier with the slide-out keyboard, for sure. But that’s not my device, it’s the company’s. The Nook is mine, and it’s become an incredibly important assistance device in managing my disability. The wider screen makes reading emails and chats a lot easier. And I can adjust the fonts so that when my vision isn’t doing so great, I can still read things clearly. I can even stream TV shows using Plex, although that’s a little choppy (I’m sure the newer Nook models would do a better job with their dual-core processors).
But a year ago, I thought that I was going to lose my ability to read for pleasure and continuing education. And this year, I’m well ahead of schedule to meet my goal of 60 books this year. I’m more productive and more in touch with my colleagues.
And I owe it all to my friends.