the wonderful world of veena.

22 May 2012

book update: leaving microsoft to change the world / my first foray into digital books.

As my first foray into reading books on my iPad, I chose to begin with Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, the story of Room to Read founder John Wood's journey from working for Microsoft to starting the organization that today works in 10 countries in Asia and Africa promoting literacy and girls' education.

The book itself was a super-fast read, allowing the reader to journey with Wood on his discovery that his heart lay not in the software world but rather in creating opportunities for children - particularly girls - in developing countries to attend school. There were so many things Wood wrote about that spoke exactly to why I feel so passionate about the work Room to Read and so many other amazing organizations are doing, and it allowed me a personal look into the man who has made this possible. From a ragtag group of employees working for free to what it is today, Room to Read has come a long way, and Wood is quick to credit those around him for their hard work and dedication to making the organization a success.

It was especially great to finish the book on my way to San Francisco, where on Friday I got to visit the Room to Read offices and meet the ladies with whom I've been in contact for the last 5 months. Each day I get more and more excited about the opportunity to work with one of Room to Read's programs.

One of the recurring themes throughout the book that stayed with me was reminiscent of Yoda's famous line, "Do or do not. There is no try." This is a line that I've carried with me for most of my life, often having to remind myself when I'm stewing over a decision that sometimes its best to just dive in head first. Too often over-thinking something prevents it from happening. Wood mentions that had he spent too much time thinking about what he was doing - leaving a cushy job with Microsoft to venture into the unknown world of nonprofits and education - he probably would never have done it; instead, he decided it was what he wanted to do, and he did it. It's a great reminder for those of us, like me, who can sometimes get too caught up in the details to remember the joy of the leap.

Shifting gears for just a second, I'd like to discuss reading a book digitally as opposed to physically. The pros: it makes it seem like the book goes really fast, since the print is super big; the Nook app syncs between my computer, phone, and iPad, and bookmarking the pages means that I can access it from any of my devices and pick up where I stopped; I can download as many books as I want, which is much lighter than toting around a ton of books while traveling; the backlight means that I don't have to tote around a book light, something I've always found to be a bit obtrusive. The cons: being an electronic device, there are only certain times you're allowed to use it on flights; you have to be connected to wi-fi to be able to download the books [that could also just be an issue I'm having with my hand-me-down iPad]; using the highlighting option is just not the same as being able to underline a passage I really like; I find that having books on all my devices leads me to try to read too many books at once, which is something I usually try to avoid [not because I can't multitask, but because I feel bad giving my attention to more than one book at a time]; I really just love physical books.

That last con is really the main reason I've resisted reading books digitally for such a long time. I just love the feel of a physical book. I love the way books smell. I love the satisfaction of turning pages and being able to see my progress. I love finishing a book I enjoyed and being able to pass it along to someone whom I think might also enjoy it.

And therein lies the rub. While e-books are a great option while traveling, particularly to cut down on weight, I will continue to be loyal to the act of purchasing and reading actual books whenever possible.

What are your thoughts on e-books? Have you tried it? Are you a convert? Or do you refuse?


  1. Hey lady! I have never tried the e-books but sounds like a great invention!!! I can't wait to hear about your work with the girls program. I am really excited about my project, but I wish I could also learn about the work you will be doing! Keep me posted, especially with any Capstone ideas, wink wink! Any chance of a meet up in Thailand? Sri Lanka?

    1. I am so ready to get over there and start working. From the looks of your blog, your project is off to a great start! I got to meet Olivia at the Room to Read office last week, and she seems cool. I'm excited to read more and more about how your stuff is going over these next few weeks.

      I'm still working on the possibility of a little trip to Sri Lanka, depending on what my brother's travel plans are. Remind me when you're getting to Sri Lanka again, and I will see what I can do.

      Have so much fun, and keep those blog posts coming!