Kindle A Light In The Nook

Kage Baker loved the Coloured Fairy Tale books.

We all did. Those venerable collections by Andrew Lang were one of the great delights of childhood; we all went through all of them with great absorption and pleasure. They remained favourites, even as we all found our ways to tales for older kids … but, you know, Sue Barton and Nancy Drew and all those other modern misses recommended as our role models couldn’t hold a candle to the adventure, magic, romance and sheer unexpurgated gore of the classic fairy stories.

Kage took very early to pirate stories, of course, and then The Odyssey, The Iliad and various histories; I somehow found my way via Freddy the Pig and science fiction into anatomy and the biological sciences. Anne and Kimberly just kind of dug their heels in and went on stubbornly reading the Andrew Lang volumes – it was easy for them to duck back into the stacks, as it were, and read what they wanted while Kage and I were alarming the librarians by being caught with The Decameron and The Golden Bough.

Somewhere along the way, though that palette of fantasy just vanished from the shelves. I remember looking for them when Kage and I, in our 20’s, had stopped in at the Ivar Branch to avail ourselves of their water fountains and bathrooms on a hot July day. Couldn’t find a one. We mourned them.

But! Technology is indeed the friend of the antiquarian, at least the kind that wants to preserve things. Today, I bought a Kindle – and in perusing the enormous, fascinating miscellany of e-books on Amazon, I found them. The Coloured Fairy Tale Books. All twelve of them. Uncondensed, un-Bowdlerized. In one volume.

For $1.99.

The cosmic injustice of this insanely low price is balanced out for me by the intensely personal joy that they’re cheap and I can get them all: Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Pink, Grey, Violet, Crimson, Brown, Orange, Olive, and Lilac. They were the first thing I downloaded. Mine! Mine at last! Well, and Kimberly, with whom I will still have to compete for the goodies – but she, like Kage, is utterly diurnal and will go to bed hours before I do!

Thank you to all of you who sent me advice on which device to buy. All the information was useful, especially the part about going out and actually handling the machines before I made up my mind. That was what decided me on the nunlike little Kindle: demure, Quakerish, nothing much to distract from the written word. I like it a lot.

And now, Dear Readers, I am retiring with my new toy and my old books to enjoy myself. The Hill of Glass is in there somewhere …

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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8 Responses to Kindle A Light In The Nook

  1. maggiros says:

    I can just see the alarmed librarians, wondering if your parents knew what kinds of books you were trying to check out or worse… reading! I read all the colored fairy books too. Of course. They’ve been available in paperback from Dover for quite some time now, but I don’t *need* them and have very little room for books I don’t actually need. Thus my love affair with the Kindle. At this price, there’s just no excuse for not having them. The Hill of Glass was one of my favorites, too.

    • Kate says:

      It’s marvelous – an entire universe of books I loved as a child, suddenly available again. In fact, tons of the books I loved at all ages and haven’t seen in years; I can stock my Kindle with a custom library of nostalgia and delight. The Coloured Fairy Tale books, though, were a grand symbolic first step.

      Oh, we all got into tons of trouble for what we were caught reading – not that it was bad, but that it was peculiar. At one point, I was forbidden to take out any more science fiction because the librarian was afraid I was getting brainwashed in some way. Kage was pilloried for reading above her age group by a couple of demented teachers. And Kimberly – another self-taught reader – was sent home from Kindergarten with a disapproving note, telling our parents they had ruined her ability to mesh with her peers … shortly after that, the library at her school refused the gift of Mark Twain books our father made, saying they were unsuitable for small children: *Tom Sawyer*! *Huckleberry Finn*! Luckily, as soon as 1st grade heaved on the horizon, Kimberly was pulled from that school and sent off to the nuns with the rest of us …

      Books are serious business with my family.


  2. So glad you got one. I have a Kindle and I love it. I downloaded the Complete Sherlock Holmes and am reading them all from first to last for the very first time. I know, I know but I never read them and now it’s so hard to put them down. Made more difficult because I am trying to write as well. Happy reading! I will have to check out the fairy books too.

  3. athene says:

    I *love* my Kindle, which surprises me, because although I am not romantic at all in most areas of my life, apparently I maintain vestiges of the romance of book reading. It was the storage issue that pushed me into it, as well. But now! How did I live without the thing! Notes in the chapters! Downloading for free, or with the paid books, test-driving 2 chapters to see if it’s worth it! Really, a brilliant device.

  4. Kelly Phillips says:

    Project Gutenberg has 36000 FREE ebooks for Kindle and other ereaders. The Andrew Lang color Fairy Books are among them along with the Grimm Brothers and almost anything else in the public domain from Chaucer to Twain to Bronte. I know $1.99 is cheap, but they are charging for something that they get for free. Project Gutenberg has been around for years but has now (in the age of the Kindle) come into it’s own. Just Google Project Gutenberg.

  5. Cryssie Stauber says:

    Mother, I believe we still have the hardback copies of The Coloured Fairy Tale books my dad collected while alive… I appreciate that people are keeping these alive!!!

  6. I believe that I can be seduced into this thing when the Art History quality illustrations meet the current print quality. Oh and I’d like old book smell too.

  7. Kate says:

    Steven – you’re going to absolutely require something that does colour! Nook does, and Kindle will eventually – but for good colour and fine detail, I suspect what you really need is an IPad, with an ereader application on it.
    Don’t you think so, Chris?

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