I went to a bookstore today (that’s a picture of the floor) to get books for someone else and I bravely, bravely did not buy anything for myself. It did get me thinking about books in general.
I know that more and more people are reading books on some kind of device these days. iPad, Kindle, whichever. I’m not all that interested in the differences, honestly. I do understand the convenience! I’m sure it’s nice to be able to download just about any book any time, no matter where you are, and dive in. I understand that the device you’re using is lighter than the books you would otherwise be lugging, and it doesn’t take up as much shelf space. But you know what? I’m not on board.
I love books not just for what’s in them but for the object itself. My friend and colleague Doug talks about importance of the tactile experience that a reader has with a printed object, and I completely agree with him. I like the heft, the paper, the design, the smell of a book. There’s nothing that feels like opening a new book — the anticipation of that first page.
I also have a feeling that the way I read and react to a book, whether I’m confused or angry or bored or delighted, somehow stays with the book when I put it on a shelf.
If I love a book (and I’m a little easy this way – I love a lot of books), I almost always read it again, even if it’s years later. Reading a book the second (or fifth, or tenth) time connects me not only to the book, but to the me who was reading it the first time. I was in a different place and a different time, in some ways a different person, and the book — it’s physical self — is a link to all those things. I’m actually a little selfish about lending books out. I feel like other people’s emotions and experiences are getting crammed in there with mine.
Sure, I’ll probably eventually have to cave and read some things on a screen. Our house is practically overflowing as it is, so the sheer volume of books may catch up to us. Maybe I’ll read reference materials on an iPad? Business books? But despite the trend, I can’t imagine reading for the love of reading with anything other than an actual book.
Speaking of which: if anyone reading this has ideas for vacation reading, please comment or send them along! We’re heading out for a few days this week and I’m giddy with the anticipation of a little time to read.
The best thing about reading on a machine is that you can read books you’d be embarrassed to be seen with–most business books fit in this category for me. There’s a certain Joseph Conrad book I had to read for grad school that I wish I could have read on a Kindle, especially as I read most of it on the T, very nervously.
Ok, George, good point. I think that’s acceptable. 🙂
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