Tag Archives: books

How I Have Stopped Using Amazon’s Kindle for my Digital Reading

July 20, 2020

Culture and Society / Reading Books

I read a lot of books, and I love the convenience of being able to take a book anywhere with me when I use digital formats. For the record, I still like actual books made of paper and comprised of tactile pages I can turn; however, the advantages that come with digital reading make my life as a daily reader much more streamlined, easy, and focused.

Up until recently, I have used Amazon’s ubiquitous Kindle ecosystem on its desktop and cell phone apps and largely on its e-readers. I love being able to switch easily between all three spaces without losing my place in a book. The simple and lightweight form factor of both their e-reader and my cell phone make it convenient to take them wherever I go in any kind of weather.

Fast forward to today when I have now eliminated my use of the Amazon Kindle platform. Relating to my last post (which you can read HERE), I am slowly moving away from using Amazon for anything. They are a multinational corporation and monopoly that rakes in HUGE profits for its billionaire CEO and its many coffers. At this point in my life, I want to support smaller businesses and exercise my right to direct my spending power away from these major conglomerates (such as Walmart, Target, etc.). Small businesses matter, and a diversified marketplace cultivates a wider variety of job opportunities, more ideas, and innovation.

My move away from Kindle does not mean I have stopped reading digitally. It is, in fact, one of the best decisions I have made that has enhanced my reading life.

This is what I have done:

  • I researched alternative e-readers and discovered a Canadian company called Rakuten that manufactures its own line of Kobo e-readers that has all of what Kindle offers and even more at reasonable prices.
  • I’ve found alternate apps such as Overdrive and Libby that grant me access to the digital resources of several libraries in different areas.
  • I’ve utilized the resources of the library at the college where I recently graduated from last December. My status as an alumnus grants me certain perks.
  • I have hunted down little free libraries that can be found virtually anywhere in the US. These are literally tiny wooden libraries in mostly residential neighborhoods in which people can take and leave books. (www.littlefreelibrary.org) There are two that I know of within an hour of where I live. (There are several in Nashville over an hour away from me.)

Instead of relying on the one Kindle ecosystem for all of my reading pleasures, I now have access to a treasure trove of different resources.

As far as my new Kobo e-reader goes, here are some details:

  • From a selection of great options, I chose the Kobo Libra H20.
  • Through a full charge, I can read for several hours.
  • I can store thousands of books with its native 8 GB of storage.
  • It offers12 different fonts and over 50 font styles.
  • There are exclusive font weight and sharpness settings.
  • The 14 file formats it supports include EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR.
  • It has Wifi connectivity to access the Kobo Bookstore and the internet.
  • With built in access to Overdrive, I can place holds and borrow books from my library of choice for free. (Kindle does not offer this.)
  • Language options are English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, Portuguese, Japanese, Turkish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, and Chinese.
  • Screen specs: 7.0″ 300 PPI E Ink Carta display, 1680 × 1264 resolution
  • It is waterproof up to 60 mins in 2 metres of water.
  • There is a front light that has adjustable color temperatures. (I read a lot in bed at night. I love this feature!)
  • Unlike Kindle, there is no advertising whatsoever (and no extra price to remove advertising, for that matter).

My Kobo Libra H20 e-reader is easily the best e-reader I’ve ever used so far. It is also well designed with a rubberized and textured backing that makes holding it at different orientations much easier.

Initially, I was hesitant to leave Kindle because of my long history with it and its ease of use, but now, I’m so glad that I did. I have a much better digital reading experience with my Kobo and access to so many more free books!

Change can be a very good thing.

PS: If you haven’t seen it already, here is my newest weekly film release called “The Package”. It is a 5-part saga in just over 4 minutes. Enjoy . . .

How I Read Books Every Day

July 6, 2020

Reading Books

As of this moment, I have read over 7,300 pages across 23 books since January 1, 2020. This is clearly an anomaly because I typically read only 12 to 15 books every year. (It’s been less than that while I was in college leading up to my graduation last December.)

Two primary factors have lead to this.

  1. I set a goal to read at least 40 books at the beginning of the year.
  2. The global Coronavirus pandemic effectively canceled all of my plans for 2020.

The lofty goal of 40 books was questionable, at best, and I’ve pursued it only because of the large backlog of terrific books I’ve yet to get my hands on. Covid-19 and sheltering at home have enabled me to develop very clear and simple reading habits that have made all of the difference. I only have 17 books left to reach my goal, and at my current rate, I may exceed that quantity by the end of this crazy year.

Before I outline how I have been able to read so much, I have a couple of disclaimers to get out of the way. First of all, I am not a speed reader by any means. I read at a moderate and steady pace, and I’ve learned how to read with my eyes—as opposed to reading with an “inner voice” that enunciates every word. I keep a moderate pace only because I find that comprehension and attention to detail gets compromised if I try to rush through a book. Secondly, I make sure that I actually want to finish the book. If it has a well-written and enchanting story with characters that I actually care about, then this definitely makes finishing it fun and easy.

So, here are the steps I take to enhance my daily reading excursions:

  • I read a minimum of 35 pages or read for at least one full hour EVERY DAY.
  • I have my next book ready to tackle as soon as I am finished with my current book.
  • I make time either in the morning when I wake up or before bed at night to read.
  • If a book feels tedious or boring by at least a quarter or a third of the way into the story, I dump it and move on to the next one.
  • I make sure I have sufficient light whenever and wherever I read to minimize fatigue in my eyes. My Kobo e-reader has a front glow light that I can adjust for comfort.
  • I borrow MANY e-books through my local library’s online Overdrive portal. I can borrow and download a book or I can place holds on several books in mere seconds without ever leaving my house. This saves me a lot of time.

That’s basically it in a nutshell. Because I enjoy reading so much, it’s not difficult to incorporate it into my daily life. Lastly, I cannot stress this enough. It is vital and paramount that you read a book with excellent content. This makes all the difference in the world. You’ll fly through an outstanding book and story in no time at all.

Find a terrific book and start reading now!! Whether you only read a handful or hundreds of books within a year, you’re bound to find a story that will enthrall and inspire you.

Happy Summer Reading to you!!

Staying Home Update #4

June 30, 2020

Culture and Society

The beginning of my sheltering in place back in March seems like so long ago. As we now reach the end of June, I harbor as much anxiety and consternation as I have before. Throughout the US as of this posting, the number of positive test results for Covid-19 keeps increasing, as well as the number of deaths. We have initiated what I believe to be a premature re-opening of the country. Where I live in a rural area of the southern state of Tennessee, most people behave as if all is normal again and do not wear masks in public. This mindset is one that I do not share.

I have been sheltering at home as much as possible. As such, I have barely seen any friends and have only visited my family briefly on a couple of occasions using masks and distancing measures. Thankfully, I love my home, and there has been no shortage of activities to fill up my time.

The lion’s share of my days have been taken up by filming. As I noted in my previous post, I have set a goal of creating 100 short films and releasing them consecutively each week every Friday. This has been an exhausting and daunting task, but its benefits have far outweighed its pitfalls. For starters, I have learned so much more about the workflow between the production and editing processes—including effective filming techniques and valuable shortcuts. From a creative standpoint, I have also become more willing to take risks and put myself out there in ways I never would have imagined for myself even a couple of years ago.

One case in point is the song (and its music video) that I released last Friday called “Cat Daddy”. On display is a goofy and fun-loving side of myself that I have largely hidden from the world. Thankfully, the sky did not fall, and the world did not end (present global circumstances notwithstanding). The creativity demanded by this filmmaking has encouraged me to be less risk-averse. This broadened template will inform all of my other projects moving forward.

Incidentally, if you have not seen “Cat Daddy” yet, here it is in all of its feline magnificence:

Outside of filming, I have, predictably, been reading a lot of books. This year, in fact, I have already far outpaced my usual quota of books by the midyear. As of this morning, I have read 22 books. In a typical year, I would have read close to six by the same point in time. This amounts to almost four times the quantity that I have read in the past. Obviously, 2020 has not been a normal year by any stretch of a reasonable imagination. Sheltering at home has certainly been conducive, but to be honest, I set a goal to read least 40 books by the end of the year back in January. This has all occurred by design.

Additionally, it is important to share what it is that I am not doing. I have resisted all temptations to watch Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime despite having easy access and subscriptions to all three. Even though this is antithetical to my vocation as a filmmaker, I would rather be a creator than a consumer at this point. The latter is far too passive an existence for me. Of course, I will watch something occasionally, but I do so after thoroughly vetting the choice I have made and imposing limits on the time I devote to it.

Both of my dominant pursuits—filming and reading books—allow me to engage and inspire my imagination in ways that are active, thoughtful, and meaningful. The problem-solving that is inherent in filmmaking and the deliberate reflection that accompanies reading a good book enrich every aspect of my creative life.

Lastly, I play music and sing every. day. These days, I switch between playing the ukulele and the piano. In both disciplines, I sing a lot. This gives me immense satisfaction and feeds my creativity in ways that I cannot even begin to explain.

With this pandemic encroaching upon every facet of modern society, I shelter in my home and take life one day at a time. I stay fearful of contracting the virus myself and spreading it. I am also angered by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, and I wish this virus did not exist to temper the protests in their honor.

I live each moment deliberately and hopefully. I care for myself and create my art. That is all I know to do at the moment. Despite my looming apprehensions about the world at large, this will have to be enough.

Here are a couple of my previous posts to read:

My 2020 Summer Reading Recommendations

June 22, 2020

Reading Books

I love reading books, and I read books ALL THE TIME. Generally, I read two fiction books for every nonfiction book I finish. Engaging, well-written stories and topics I am curious about fill up a lot of my leisure reading time.

Since it is now the month of June, I thought I’d take time to recommend three books that I enjoyed reading, in case you might be at a loss for something wonderful to devour during these long, sweltering days. I chose these books simply because they are excellent and give off an aura of the summer season in their bones.

Don’t worry. I hate it when people give away the ending of a book when they are trying to describe it. That’s not me.

Without further delay, check these books out:

1. The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel
Author: Nina George

There is a valid reason why this book is an international bestseller. It is a sweet and whimsical story that had me wishing it would never end. It has characters who I would actually befriend if they existed in real life. The story mostly takes place on a bookshop that is housed on a barge that is tethered to a dock along the Seine in Paris. Its owner considers himself to be a literary apothecary with the ability to prescribe a book to any customer based on their proclivities and life experiences. This book is just dripping with charm. I’m surprised it hasn’t been made into a film yet. Fill your summer afternoons with this pleasant and adventurous gem of a book.



All the Light We Cannot See
Author: Anthony Doerr

This book takes place within the tumult of World War II and documents the separate lives of a blind French girl and a German boy who enlists to fight. Their paths eventually converge, but the meat of the book is in the struggles and hardships they face. What struck me most about this book is not only its two endearing protagonists but also its many tender, bewildering moments within the narrative that add so much depth and character to the story. There is a sizable degree of sadness in this book, but it is the origins and machinations of this sadness that make this book so heart-breakingly beautiful.



How To Do Nothing
Author: Jenny Odell


I won’t give it away, but there is actually something sneaky and clever about the title of this book. To my delight, this non-fiction piece was incredibly informative and well-researched. Its author speaks from a voice that is clear, gentle, and unapologetic about where she stands. She looks critically at the modern digital landscape of cell phones and social media that have taken over the world and offers a rich perspective into how we can reimagine the spaces within which we occupy our time. If the previous sentence sounds strange and intriguing to you, then you should read this book. I had at least a couple of solid and useful takeaways from it, and I’ve thought of them often since I read it. Read this book and learn how to do nothing.



Whether you read these books or others of your choosing, I hope you enjoy being immersed in some other space, time, and emotion—all the while appreciating the careful attention and finely-honed craft that the author imbued into those pages.

Relax, take a deep breath, and open a book to read. Make your summer days more potent and satisfying.

My Summer Reading Review

September 8, 2019

Culture and Society / Reading Books / Roque Recommends

Alas! With the Labor Day holiday now come and gone, our summer days have now passed us. The last three months away from school has given me a lot of time to rest and do more of the other activities that I enjoy outside all of the academic work.

One such activity is reading books. This summer, I read seven books, and I wanted to highlight some of the more noteworthy ones here.


Dazzle Camouflage by Ezra Berkley Napon

In the interest of transparency, I actually know the person who wrote this book as well as a few of the people whose work are documented within. This book chronicles theatrical styles of grassroots activism that have been carried out in various regions of the US. If you are interested in the type of activism that extends beyond the usual protests, rallies, and boycotts, this book provides a striking view of the ways to incorporate performance art, satire, and unconventional artistic expression into all kinds of public advocacy work. The writing is easy to understand, and the historical anecdotes give clear examples of how this kind of activism can be done.


The Secret Piano by Zhu Xiao-Mei

I was drawn to this book primarily because I actively seek out books about pianos and pianists. Needless to say, this historical fiction and autobiography certainly met that criteria and then some. This story shares the struggles of a young pianist who has to survive the harsh conditions of a work camp along with the ravages of the Chinese totalitarian Communist regime that sent her there. It shows how her love for playing piano sustained her spirit during the tumultuous and dehumanizing cultural revolution in China.

Well–paced and thoughtfully written, there is a delicacy and sweetness to this story that makes the whole saga purely satisfying to read.


A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles

Simply put, I loved this book. It has the makings of classic historical fiction. The book’s central character Count Alexander Rostov is an endearing and enigmatic man of many passions. I could not help but cheer for him as he lives a simple but rich life living under house arrest in Russia’s iconic Metropol Hotel in Moscow. There are flashes of whimsy, intrigue, romance, and sheer delight in this fantastic narrative. The writing displays the author’s commanding gifts in the arts of storytelling and descriptive prose. I would emphatically recommend this book to anyone looking for a well-written and dynamic story. This is the best fiction I have read so far this year.


Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

I have been making changes in the way I engage with social media and the digital aspects of modern life. This book has inspired so many ideas for me that I wrote about it in a recent blog post:

I have read many of Newport’s books and follow his blog. This book finds him in top form dispensing thoughtful ideas and practices toward combating the perils of modern technology (like cell phones and texting) and addictive social media usage. For anyone trying to live a life that is more engaged with actual human beings and the physical world around us and less entrenched in corporatized technology and websites, this book is for you.


Now that fall has more or less arrived, I have a set of new books to explore as the weather gets cooler and the beautiful fall colors start to arrive in my forest neighborhood. If you have any great book recommendations, let me know.

Find a wonderful book to settle into, and open up your world to limitless possibilities!

-Roqué