Monday, December 26, 2011

The Mystery of Reading

In our house, we have readers. They fall into two categories. First, we have the I’ll- read-books-in-any-format-currently available—iPod, Kindle, hardback, or loose leaf paper. And we have the you-can-have-my-hardbacks-when-you-pry-them-from-my-cold-dead-fingers readers. I used to be the latter. I love to hear the crack of a spine when a book is opened for the first time. I love the scent of the binding glue. And I love the feel of crisp paper under my fingertips. I love all those sensory experiences. A lot of people do, which is why hardbacks will never die.

But e-readers have a mystique that can’t be denied. There’s no sensory attraction; no bookish smell, no crisp feel, no sounds. But I can carry a whole library in my purse. I can still underline and take notes. I can adjust the font for my aging eyes. I can read on the treadmill without using rubberbands and paperclips. (Yes, I used to attract stares at the gym.) I can read books by authors whose novels are great, but couldn’t find a home with the big three houses (publishers).

However, none of those things are really the point. The reason I love my e-reader is the same reason I love printed books. It’s not the medium. About thirty seconds into reading, I don’t even know whether I’m turning a pages or pressing a button. Instead, I’m fencing a rogue, hunting a killer, or flirting with Mr. Darcy. (Sorry, Cal, but every woman flirts with Mr. Darcy.) And that’s one of the real reasons that people read. We travel through time and space to be another person, to think other thoughts, to be brave against all odds, and to feel other people’s pain and joy. That’s the part of reading that will never change. It’s why reading and writing will never die. 


  1. I hear you. Even if I love books, I want an e-reader so that I can read more new books. The selection available to me in South Africa is pathetic and I won't stand for it much longer.

  2. . . . And then, being a computer, your Kindle crashes and you lose your whole library. At least hardbacks don't crash.

  3. I love my Kindle because I don't have to pick which books I don't have room on my bookshelf for.

  4. I will love physical books forever, but I understand the draw of the e-reader. I have a Kindle, and while I still don't use it very often, it is indeed very handy for travel. Like you said, you can carry more than one book at a time AND it's light and thin. Very convenient. I still haul around real books in my purse though, much to the chagrin of my mother. Haha.

  5. Krispy,
    I'm confused...isn't the point of having a purse so you can carry books around. ;)