Kindle Paperwhite and Open Dyslexic Font

I recently upgraded my Kindle from an old school, 2nd gen. Yeah, that’s right. I’d been reading books on this since about 2011.

Amazon Kindle - Wikipedia

I bought my 2nd gen Kindle while I was in South Korea in 2011, teaching English. I don’t know if things have changed in the last decade, but at the time, it was quite difficult to find books I wanted to read (in English–I don’t speak or read Korean), and so sent away for this kindle. It was great at the time. I loved being able to get pretty much any book I wanted while living abroad. However, once I returned to the States I realized my attention was somewhat limited while reading on this device. I’d commonly and easily find ways to NOT read. I’d get tired, my eyes would start to droop. I’d find myself folding laundry or doing dishes even though I had planned to sit down and read for at least an hour a day. I’m not completely sure why reading on this old-school Kindle was so great in South Korea, but so difficult in the US. I think it was because I enjoy paper books (though also find myself easily distracted) and they were now available to me.

Fast forward to 2021, as my 2nd gen Kindle had collected an amazing amount of dust. I really only used it when in dire need of a book ASAP. This included books for school in 2020 as the pandemic shut everything down.

Then, one of my good friends, who is studying to be a special education teacher asked me if I’d heard about Open Dyslexic Font. I had not. I’m dyslexic, and struggled with it a lot when I was younger, even throughout college. However, as an adult I’ve learned to compensate to the point where I have wondered if I’m even dyslexic anymore–or that is, whether the symptoms I used to have are even present.

My friend told me Open Dyslexic Font was designed to help dyslexic people not only reader faster, but also read longer. I am not a fast reader–but the real barrier is that I often become sleepy while trying to read. I couldn’t get the font on my 2nd gen Kindle, so bounced for the new(ish) Kindle Paperwhite in order to see what this font could do for me.

Dyslexia Font and Styles

It’s ugly. I know. Every letter looks a bit wonky. It actually reminds me of my own handwriting. The idea of this font is that each letter and number is distinct. There are a lot of reused shapes in the English alphabet. For instance, i, j, l. These letters all look something alike. f, p, q, b, d, also share similarities. Why is the f in there? Well, depending on the hook and the cross of the f, it can look similar to a p, at a glance. The way I read, which I understand is different than people who do no have dyslexia. I read every letter, rather than the shape of the word. Or at least, I often do. Sometimes, with simple words, like articles, I read them as full shapes. But words I don’t read often I read as a collection of distinct letters. Due to this, the Open Dyslexic Font is helpful as each letter looks different. Maybe just slightly different, but different. Look above how the lower case l as a bit of a rightward tail. How upper case i tapers near the top. With this font, I can’t mistake a upper case i with a lower case l. This in a small thing, but it increases the rate at which I read and decreases the amount of energy I have to expend to parse that I read.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (7th Generation) B00OQVZDJM 4GB, Wi-Fi, 6 inch  eBook Reader- Black for sale online | eBay

Now I read on this type of kindle. And I can change any book I read on this device to be displayed in large Open Dyslexic Font.

I have found myself reading more often since I got this Kindle. I have tore through American War by Omar el Akkad. Each time I sit down to read, I don’t want to stop. I don’t get as tired and I enjoy the way in which my eyes flow across the text. I’ve even installed a Chrome plug-in that lets me turn website text to Open Dyslexic Font. I don’t use it on every site, but when the article is long or simply arduous, I will use it.

I really encourage anyone who has dyslexia to try this font out. Also, people who don’t have dyslexia also may benefit from it as well.

Book Review: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Sometimes it’s just totally worth it to go back in time and read some of your childhood favorites. For anyone who isn’t living at the bottom of a bog, then you have at least heard of Terry Pratchett and picked up one of his books in a bookstore, been confused about where you should start his Discworld Series, then put the book back on its shelf. Lucky for me, I discovered the Discworld Emporium which breaks down each Discworld thread into something like chronological order. Before reading Equal Rites I’d read, Guards Guards!, Reaper Man, The Truth, Going Postal, Moving Pictures, Jingo, and The Color of Magic. (Now that I write them down I had no idea that I’d read so many over the years). Something that’s truly amazing about the Discworld Series is that none of them feel stale. None of them rehash old plot points or character development because they are all standalone novels as much as they are connected with each other.

So, Equal Rites. I picked this book up after reading a dialogue between Neal Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro about genre. Gaiman, who was a good friend of Sir Terry Pratchett’s and collaborated on books with him mentioned that Pratchett was frustrated by the confines of marketing in terms of “literature” versus “fantasy.”

“You know, you can do all you want, but you put in one fucking dragon and they call you a fantasy writer,” Gaiman recalls his friend’s frustration.

With this in mind, I picked up Equal Rites which is about witches, but it’s actually about women’s rights. It’s about institutions (or a specific institution) made by men for men that excludes and demeans the attempts of women to be a part of it. The university in Ankh-Morpork, Unseen University.

the book shows how the acts of women have always be placed aside from whatever men have deemed “acceptable” and or “worthy of academia” for no other reason than it’s “against the lore,” as many a wizard claims. “Against the lore,” meaning that it is not part of the status quo.

Given a change of scenery and era and, yes, genre, this story could also be told in the 19teens as fought for the right to vote and make their voices heard. Women were only granted the right to vote in 1920. Yeah. Not even 100 years ago. This story could also be told in the business sectors of our current day, or dare I say, in a Presidential Election.

Of course, any of these settings would quickly turn the book away from the humoristic and focus it on drama. Perhaps Pratchett’s stories only work so well and are digestible by the masses because of their “fantasy” status. Perhaps it is this status that enables him to address difficult subject matter without offending.

In the end, the curse of the genre is, perhaps, what makes this book succeed so easily. The subversion of tropes and finger pointing at the injustices the status quo produces is, sometimes, only heard when there are wizards and dragons involved.

Comic Review: Isola, Issue 4

I’ve taken a while to get to this issue, I think because I was really invested in the first 3 issues it was hard to pick up the 4th without having the fifth, which is the end of this original arc of Isola. I hear it will return in January 2019. But, hey, now I’ve gotten to Isola #4, so here’s my take.

(WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)

See the source imagePicked Up: Issue 3 leaves off on a real cliffhanger. Rook has lost queen Olwyn, as Rook has been captured herself. She escapes the trappers and is led to Queen Olwyn, who has been turned into a tiger. When she finds Olwyn in this spooky spirit place, Olwyn is mostly human again, though with a tiger head. She only speaks one word. “Murderer.”

Flashback: As one might expect from the ending of issue 3, much of #4 is a flashback. We get to see who Rook killed that would cause Olwyn to call her lover a murderer. However, we also learn why Rook would have done something like this. We also see how Olwyn is turned into a tiger, though we are still unsure why–the motive.

Monsters: One of my favorite parts of this comic are the monsters. From issue one, it’s made clear that this world is one of giant beasts and crazy creatures. There is an intriguing type of person in this comic as well, crossed between animal and human, some people are bear/human hybrids, others are wolf/human hybrids. I expect this to be more explained and explored in future issues, as they certainly raise some questions about why and what they are as they seem to have some spiritual rituals around these beast-people.

Conclusion: This continues to be one of my favorite comics. I’ll likely finish off the first run tomorrow, so will bring you my thoughts on issue 5, but knowing I’ll have to wait until January for subsequent issues is a bummer.