E-book, read on Kindle. Downloaded Feb 2011 from manybooks.net (I think)

Usually, I have a "nice" book or two on the go at home and then a less special copy to pop in my handbag for reading on the bus.  But I took a look at my TBR and realised that I’ve got up to the Christmas/Birthday acquisitions, which means lots of "nice" books and not many "handbag" books.  So I thought I’d use my poor, dusty Kindle, so eagerly anticipated and so underused since I got it, for reading on the bus.  After all, a) I have 44 books on it, and b), as Matthew pointed out, I happily wave my Blackberry around on the bus, which cost twice as much.

So – the reading experience was good.  I felt hyper-vigilant at first, taking it into town and back including coming back on the No 50 bus after 8 pm.  But it was fine; as far as I could see, noboldy turned a hair, or even looked at it.  My commutes to work are quite quiet as I go in early and come back before rush hour, and again, I was fine.  I have the Kindle in a case, so I just popped it out of my bag, propped it on my bag on my lap, and there I was. It’s comfortable to hold with the case folded back (I have one shaped like a traditional book) although I don’t yet use it one-handed like the people in the ads. The screen was easy to read in sunlight and duller conditions, the pages are easy to turn, and the procedure for putting it away – flicking the switch and closing the case – take the same amount of time as inserting the bookmark and shutting the book.  I am careful of my handbag with it in, and make sure it’s stored vertically between my purse and a notebook, and I’m more careful not to slam my bag down or kick it out of the way (and I keep the Kindle out of the bag at home) and all seems fine.  

As to this particular book.  Well, it was a charming read, which I would not have been able to read without digging out a second hand copy in Hay on Wye or a similar place, but easily available through Project Gutenberg and other sites like manybooks.  My only problem with the text was that a) illustrations were not included (I have read a book with illustrations on M’s e-reader, so assume this is an issue with the text and not the Kindle), and b) some of the accented letters came out oddly – and of course Icelandic has a lot of these.  I presume that’s a glitch in the coding, and it was OK, if a little annoying.  The narrative itself is the 2nd edition of the book, originally published in 1889 and again in 1894 with a ‘Preface to the Second Edition’ which I didn’t notice until I was checking the publication date.  But I’m glad I read it after the main narrative.  The book deals with a trip to and around Iceland, undertaken by the author, her brother, her female friend and two of her brother’s male friends.  Intrepid as an Isabella Bird, she quickly takes to riding the Icelandic ponies in the "man’s" style, i.e. sitting astride the pony rather than side-saddle, finding it more comfortable and easier on both her and the pony.  The consternation with which this report was received was the subject of her Preface, in which she admits that she hasn’t been able to make people change over to the new style.  Apart from this controversial issue, it’s a lovely description of Iceland, its people and places, giving a vivid snapshot of the island at the beginning of its tourist age, when it took 5 days to get there by boat from Scotland.  Many of the sights and sites are the same, which made it a good companion to my Rough Guide, read recently, and in fact I’m now on to another book about travelling in the country.

A good experiment with the Kindle, and a great book I wouldn’t have found without the device.  I will definitely be continuing with both the Kindle and the collection of slightly obscure travel narratives I have loaded onto it.