For the past few weeks, I have been trying to rekindle my love affair with books. Not books, as in “things that we read,” but as in, “the actual physical paper artifact.” And I say trying because I’m not sure it’s working out as well as I might have hoped.
I’ve read almost exclusively on an ereader (specifically Kindles, although I’ve had three of them as new models come out) for the last several years. But recently I’ve been unable to get my hands on e-copies of some books, so I went to my local library—a building I have lived four blocks away from since last October—and got myself a library card. (My love/dismay relationship with libraries is probably a whole other post…) The library was able to get me the books I was looking for, but they were, of course, paper.
I love books. But that statement apparently has to be broken down further, to distinguish from “things we read” and “physical paper thing.” Because I do love actual paper books, but I love them as artifacts. I love the covers that artists produce for them, I love taking them to authors and having them signed, I love supporting the authors whose works I love. But. I don’t love reading on paper anymore.
Yes, there is something to be said for the convenience of an ereader, of being able to carry around hundreds of books in such a small package. But more than that, it’s a different physical experience. And for me, it’s a more comfortable experience. Books are hard to balance, they can be large and unwieldy, require two hands to turn pages and a light to read by, and they can be physically damaged by the very act of our opening them carelessly. My Kindle is small, has a page turn button right where I hold the device anyway, and has a backlight so I can read into the wee hours of the night while my husband sensibly sleeps.
In a way it’s hard to get my head around the idea that I might not love actual books as much as I used to, particularly since I own so many of them, and want to continue to expand that collection. A goodly chunk of them are signed, some of them are books I’ve owned for many, many years and have fond memories attached. On the other hand, the convenience of the Kindle is hard to beat. What does that say about the practicality of owning those physical artifacts?
So here’s my (potentially) unpopular opinion: I don’t love reading paper books. I love reading on my Kindle.