Reading Samples

I had only an iPad in my hands, and a long flight ahead of me. Browsing the iTunes bookstore, I couldn’t decide which book I wanted to read; there were so many titles of interest to me. So I did what any book-loving girl in my situation would have done: I downloaded the free samples for six different books, and I read four of them.

1. Catherine the Great, Portrait of a Woman, by Robert K. Massie

Having lived in Russia twice, I am still fascinated by this country rich in history and heritage, but complicated in its explanations. I have personally visited the palace of Catherine the Great, and was excited to hear a wonderful interview by Diane Rehm with Robert Massie. Listening to Massie discuss Catherine as if he knew her personally, compelled me to download the first 121 pages, but his rich narrative style kept me reading, and I was sad when my sample ended.



2. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

My friend Christina absolutely adores Eugenides, and when I asked her which of his three books (I downloaded all three samples because I wasn’t sure which to choose) is her favorite, and she emphatically stated: Middlesex, I knew I had to start with this one. Honestly, those free 83 pages flew by for me so quickly, and darned if it didn’t end just when the story was about to get good. I’m thinking Christina is definitely on to something with Eugenides, and I can’t wait to see how this one ends.



3. 11/22/63: A Novel, by Stephen King

Don’t judge, but I listen to NPR all the time. Seriously. Some folks have their televisions, but I have my NPR iPad app that gets used more often than anything else. So when the regular book reviewer told me this latest novel by Stephen King was nothing like any of his other novels, my ears perked up immediately! Truth: I’ve never read a Stephen King novel. I love history, and this quasi-historical fictitious retelling of the events leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy is an extremely fun ride! Time travel, mystery, intriguing characters, real life events – and I’m only 148 pages committed at this point.


4. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

Look – everyone else is reading this biography of the year, so why not me, too? I take Apple products intravenously, and am certain if I were paid commission on all the Apple products I’ve convinced other people to buy, I could have a nice fat wad of cash in reserve to cover my next Apple fix. 91 pages hardly has Steve Jobs’ story started, though, and I’ve heard really mixed opinions about this book. I will say that the smattering of different names on every page had me turning back to the nine page! org chart at the beginning too frequently to keep me interested in the “characters.”

The other two samples I downloaded were Eugenides’ other two novels: The Marriage Plot, and The Virgin Suicides. I haven’t read either of these two yet since I wanted a clean slate with Eugenides as I started Middlesex, but indeed, they will be read.

I have decided that I LOVE the ability to download free samples of books. This is waaaay better than Amazon’s Look Inside! feature, and will definitely make it easier for me to fairly determine whether or not I actually want to read a book. My big question now is, Which book do I finish first? Who’s read any of these titles?


  1. says

    Ooh, this book sampling game sounds fun! I may have to play on my ipad (yes, another apple product junkie here). I’ve heard some buzz about Catherine the Great, and now that I know you enjoyed the sample so much I’m even more interested in it.
    I hope you continue to love Middlesex! And Jeffrey Eugenides’ other books, when you get to them! I’m reading a collection he edited, and once I finish it I’ll have nothing else of his until his next novel which, judging by his usual pacing, might not be available for another ten years or so.

  2. says

    I have to try this book sampling thing!! I also need to read the Stephen King book.. I’m a huge fan of his and back in the days before kids & schedules, I could devour one of his books in no time at all. I’ve also heard interesting things about the Jobs bio.. oddly enough, that’s the main word people use to describe it (and him).. “interesting”.

    • says

      Yay, Kristen! I can’t wait to discuss the new Stephen King novel with you! I think with the Jobs bio I’ll just borrow someone else’s copy and peruse it, rather than purchase for myself.

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