This summer, any spare time I get in between traveling and staying at my remote campsite is spent enjoying a good book. When I am in southern populated areas and connected to the Internet, it seems like work is always overwhelming. When not at work, my time is gobbled up online. Out on the land, I get a chance to catch up on my reading.
Even out here in the middle of nowhere, technology actually makes it easier for me to sit back and read a good book. I download all the reading I am interested in onto my iPad. It is really easy to do these days with sites such as Gutenberg.org and the Google Books website.
Gutenberg is a site dedicated to classical books that are available for free to the public in electronic form. Google Books does the same thing but also makes available books by more recent publishers and authors if the licensing is open and free for public use.
Some of the major ebook distributors online, such as Kobo books and Kindle by Amazon, offer special discounts or even free ebooks on their sites at different times or through special promotions. The iPad also offers an app for access to iTunes U, has many free books, videos and audio programming.
This spring and summer my reading list has included: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson; the Odyssey Series by Arthur C Clarke; The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan; Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut and several short stories by Isaac Asimov.
The Bill Bryson book still holds my interest even though I have read it three times. It is a science book packed full of information that is comical and easy to read. You can become a general expert on world science by reading this book. The Odyssey Series is a science-fiction collection of four novels that imagines our future and how we might be thought of by more advanced beings in the universe. Of course, Clarke is the famous author who gave us 2001: A Space Odyssey. At the end of the Odyssey Series, Clarke suggested that Sagan’s A Demon-Haunted World should be recommended reading for every high school and college student. This book advocates a more scientific, open and informed way of thinking to everything we see, hear and read in our modern world. It promotes skepticism and freethinking.
I really enjoyed reading Vonnegut’s two books as he is a more direct and surrealistic writer. I also admire the man for his life experiences, including action in World War Two and his time as a prisoner of war. He wrote as a true experienced warrior about the hell of war. Many who write about these conflicts try to glamourize them but those who have been through live action in a war are more realistic and honest about the horrors of war.
Probably one of the best things I did for myself this year was to download an entire copy of Wikipedia through an app on the iPad. When I am in a remote setting, I find it comforting to sit back and research any topic I want through my own personal copy of Wikipedia.
Through the Google Books website, I managed to find several books that featured Cree syllabics including a copy of the Old Testament Bible, a Cree dictionary and a short historical book on the history of James Evans, one of the central figures who created the syllabic symbol system of writing for North American Native languages. This has been very valuable to me in my efforts to study my own Native language.
I was surprised to see the great difference in the Cree language spoken and written today as compared to the language in use 100 years ago. There are so many words and phrases that we don’t use today or that we have forgotten and the only way to really study the language is through Elders who still speak much of the original language and, of course, through references such as the translated Bible from 100 years ago.
I find it strange yet gratifying that even when I am off the grid, offline and on the land, technology still plays a prominent part of my life and provides entertainment as well as knowledge.