Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot” – thoughts on Part II (and Nook app issues…)

I finished reading part two of this novel for Allie’s read-along on Sunday. On Memorial Day, however, “disaster” struck. I open up my Nook app on my iPad and none of my highlighting and notes from yesterday are there. This was, needless to say, very annoying. I’m not sure why/how this could have happened. I did notice when opening the app later in the evening, it initially acted like my library was “empty” (what?!) so I closed and reopened and there were my books. “Phew!” on that at least. I don’t sync my iPad (which includes a backup step) that often so now I have concerns about losing all “my brilliant highlighting.” Has anyone out there who uses the Nook app ever had this happen before? Any thoughts on how to prevent a recurrence?

But anyway, back to The Idiot…

“I declare, this is a lunatic asylum!”

So says Mrs. Yepanchin near the end of part two. I must say I often found myself in complete agreement with her. What stood out to me in this part of the book was that, while part I ended in a mad dash of men who were after the hand of Natalia Phillipovna, part II seemed to contain a whole flock of men who wanted a piece of Prince Myshkin’s “fortune.” I began to think of the common phrase “It’s a man’s world!” (certainly more true in the 19th century than today) and wondered, what is it that most men want the most? Why, women and money (or power) are most often near the top of the list. I don’t know if Dostoevsky is making a comment on this in the first two parts of The Idiot or not.

In part II we also find our hero, Prince Myshkin, suffering an epileptic fit. In this case it happened at a fortuitous time as it saved him from violence at the hands of the scoundrel, Rogozhin. I found Dostoevsky’s thoughts and descriptions of the Prince’s “state of mind” in the time leading up to the attack fascinating. Did he have personal experience with mental illness or epileptic episodes? Perhaps one of my fellow read-alongers will know…

Later, Mrs. Yepanchin also offers up, “I certainly shall go mad if I stay here!” I, however, think I shall “stay here” and continue reading this novel…

Sent from my iPad


How I learned of writer Paulo Coehlo

Note: names of people and places have been purposefully removed or embellished in the following post in order to “protect the innocent” 🙂

I admit it, I like coffee shops and bars. I like going into them – usually by myself – and leisurely hanging out for awhile reading or browsing the internet (it’s better – though not cheaper – than staying at home where the tv is a constant temptation; why I don’t just get rid of my tv, I don’t know). If the bar has the Buzztime Trivia Network, then of course I will stay longer than I should, trying to make or even “dominate” the local leader board. I will happily talk to fellow patrons or staff of these establishments if they initiate conversation, but I am equally content to just keep to myself and my reading/browsing/trivia playing. In the past eight months or so (or my “iPad Era” as I like to call it) I am often approached with questions about my iPad- “Ooh, is that an iPad?”, “So, how do you like your iPad?”, “Don’t you just love your iPad?”, ad infinitum. I’ve even joked that my iPad is my new “wingman” due to all the attention it draws.

So, that was a long preamble I guess, but this is kind of how I learned of the writer Paulo Coehlo last week. I was in a favorite downtown Indy bar Tuesday after work; the weather was bad, and the place was relatively deserted. I was talking to the bartender – a friend of mine – and she introduced me to their new employee. After awhile, I hear “new employee” ask, “So, how do you like your iPad?” (see option 2 above). I go into my usual spiel about how I’m on it for hours every day, and mention that a large chunk of that time is spent reading e-books since “I have an app that let’s me access books I’ve purchased on my e-reader,” etc. She says, “Oh, you have a Kindle?”

I explained that I don’t have a Kindle but a Nook. It turns out that “new employee” is a fellow books & reading addict. So I show her the app and my library of e-books that I’ve already purchased, and she’s read a surprisingly large number of them too. She asks about the author Paulo Coehlo, mentioning that he’s one of her favorites and “have you read anything by him?” I cringe as I don’t know that name and fear I have been exposed as a cultural illiterate. She mentions some titles (“The Alchemist? Yeah, I’ve at least heard of that!” slightly redeeming myself.). She says Coehlo reminds her somewhat of Gabriel Garcia Marquez whose One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of her favorites. I admitted I enjoyed that book (“even if I didn’t completely understand it”) and said I liked Love in the Time of Cholera much better. She’d read that one too. I asked which Coehlo book of the ones she mentioned I should start out with, and she said “probably The Alchemist,” (but I ended up reading “Eleven Minutes” this week instead).

While browsing through me e-library, she noticed all the Kurt Vonnegut titles and asked, “Are you a Vonnegut fan?” I said yes, and she said, “Did you know there’s a new Vonnegut Library right here in town?” I said “of course,” and she said “I live right across the street from it.” Now, this was starting to feel a little like fate, so I promised myself that I would (A) read a Coehlo book and (B) report back to her later. I’ve completed (A) and hopefully (B) can be accomplished on my next visit…

Sent from my iPad

Writer Paulo Coehlo:

Nook “user group” meeting

(written 10/6/10, 5:45pm)
I’m sitting here at Barnes and Noble where there will allegedly be a kind of a Nook user group meeting. I’ve been told they have them the first and third Wednesday of each month. I want to learn more about sharing books since a coworker of mine now has a Nook too, and we have a few candidates in our libraries for which we’d like to test this process out.

I’m also a little curious about synchronizing my various readers I.e., I now have my actual Nook, the Nook app on my iPhone – which I barely use – and my Nook app on my iPad – which I use more than anything now. The big question for me is: if I highlighted passages and made notes on the iPad app (where it is soooo easy), do those get synchronized when I log in to B& so that if I later open the books on my actual nook, will I still get to see my highlights and notes(?)

I’m going to pause here and continue later since it’s almost the appointed time…

(written 10/8/10 7:15am)
Well, I did end up speaking with one of the in-store experts for awhile. I was the only one there at the scheduled start time (although another user did show up about 6:15 just as I was running out of the questions I had wanted to ask). The expert was also an iPad owner and, like me, did most of his nook reading via the Nook app for the iPhone, so that was convenient.

Re: Sharing (lending) e-books:
You can still only lend a book only one time. I asked if he saw that rule ever changing in the future and he was non-committal but offered “it’s possible” but there were no current plans to change that. Once offered to lend, the fellow Nook user you lend it to had seven days to “accept” it. Once they accept it, it transfers to their account for a period of two weeks. During this time it will not show up in the “my library” screen of the Nook/Nook app. I still haven’t tried this yet, but probably will in the next few weeks. I will report back my success or failure on this front. Note: not all the books one buys via the Nook are “lendable” either. E.g., maybe 30% or so of my e-library is.

Re synchronizing highlights & notes: the answers here were disappointing but not surprising. When I download a purchased book to my iPad, that is a separate copy and is not synchronized with the “master copy” of the book on my B&N account. Like many, I have a fear of losing data at some point – though not quite the paranoia of some others in this regard. But my iPad is backed up on my home computer, and maybe someday the b&n account will let you save the highlights there as well.

Re one other item that I haven’t mentioned before: To “turn the pages” while reading the Nook, one “clicks” or presses the side panel of the device. Well, after reading a few thousand pages on my Nook, these side panels began to develop thin cracks where this “pressing” takes place. (I should also mention that it is possible to turn pages by “swiping” the small touch screen from right to left, but it seems easier to me to just click the side of the device) Anyway, he said this was a “known problem” and that if I contact Nook support they will replace my device. This is good to know. And I should say that it still works fine, it’s just that its appearance is slightly marred by these little cracks on the side.

Any other Nook users out there that have experienced this problem?

Below: the Nook reader (no, those are not my hands in the picture 🙂 ) and the Nook app for iPad: