2022 Reading Challenge

2022 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 260 books.

I Think I Am Going to Have to Do It or “Sigh,” She Said

Well, it’s official. I Think I Am Going To Have To Do It. Buy an e-reader, that is. Sigh, she said. I have been a fairly vocal opponent of this trend so far, and stand behind the basis for my primary complaints, which are as follows:

  • I love the feel of a book in my hands. Reading is, in part, a tactile experience for me. I love the heft of a big fat new work of fiction, the shifting weight of the book in my hands as the left-side pages finally begin to outweigh the right-side pages, and the way those last few skinny pages feel when I’m nearing the end…
  • I love going to bookstores and browsing through the piles of books on sale and specialty tables. I love letting my eyes wander over the rows and rows of titles on shelves. I love seeing what catches my eye and then trying to figure out why and if the eye-catching-ness is in fact symptomatic of the interest-catching-ness of the story.
  • I love looking at other people’s bookshelves. I admit it freely – I judge people more than a little bit by the books they own (or don’t own). It’s not the only basis for judgment, but I have made many an “oh, we’re going to get along fine!” decision upon seeing a spate of shelves filled with interesting titles in some new friend/acquaintance’s home/office/whatever.

That said, I can freely admit there are benefits to e-books/e-readers also, and it is these things that seem to be weighing most heavily and tilting me ever-so-increasingly onto the side of e-reading. ‏The biggest benefit, of course, is space. As someone who owns over 1200 books and continues to buy books almost compulsively, I know firsthand exactly how much space a book habit requires. I have had to buy and/or craft extra bookshelves everywhere I have ever lived. Every room in every house (or whatever type of dwelling I happened to be in) I have ever lived in has had books in every room. Despite my slightly OCD-ish tendency to need books to be arranged artfully on shelves so that they are pleasing to the eye as well as to the soul, I keep having to stack them on top of each other, sideways, upways, downways, and behindways to give them homes. So there is, of course, tremendous appeal in a six inch rectangular device, thinner than a pencil, that can only over three thousand five hundred books (to quote just a few of the latest Kindle statistics.

A corollary of space is of course weight/size. When I still worked in corporate America, I would take an annual, week-long trek to Aruba. By myself. With only a bag of books for company. I would take at least two books per day for the seven day trip. And most of the time I would finish them all (once I even needed to buy a book at the airport for the last leg of the flight home). The books were the vast majority of my personal carry-on item (i.e., my purse-like bag), which is not to be confused with my suitcase carry-on, which contained two-to-three bathing suits, underwear, four or five t-shirts and pairs of shorts, one skirt for a nice dinner out, and the bare minimum of toiletries since I did not care how I looked for that week.

Those fourteen/fifteen books were carefully selected, in a vetting process that usually began at least two or three weeks before the trip (so I could order new paperbacks online). I did not want anything too heavy or unwieldy to read while laying in a hammock. Nor did I want anything that couldn’t get damp/splashed, just in case of a pool or Caribbean Sea emergency. I had to have a mixture of new books and old stand-by favorites, of fiction and non-fiction, of heavy and light reading, of things on the to-read list and things I stumbled upon recently.

Imagine for a moment how carefully I had to weigh each selection; imagine also my extreme annoyance when I occasionally made a bad choice. No imagine how entirely different that process (and potentially, therefore, that trip) would be with an e-reader. I could take literally thousands of books with me and read anything I felt like at any given moment. And I wouldn’t have needed a “purse-like bad” – I could have taken an actual, manageable, non-back-breaking purse.

And then there’s the newest benefit to the e-reader: book reviewing. As the blog has continued to develop and I have posted more of my own reviews and writings and commentaries, I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that people actually appear to enjoy my writing and my thoughts about books that are/are not worth reading. And a pleasant side-effect of this is that more and more people are asking me to review their books. I love this, by the way, not only because it gets me free books and gives me “work” that I actually enjoy, but also because it introduces me to new writing/writers of which I was previously unaware – and which I might never have otherwise stumbled upon. Many of these writers only publish electronically, however, and many prefer to send review copies that way because of the expense both of maintaining stock and of mailing it out. Without an e-reader, I am automatically excluded from accessing some of these writers/writings (or at least disadvantaged from doing so, as I find it very difficult to read something that has to be viewed on the computer), and I don’t like that one little bit.

So it appears that the benefits of having an e-reader are rapidly pushing me in the direction of getting one. The Fiancee, who is an admitted technophile, doesn’t see the dilemma for me here. He has logically pointed out that having an e-reader does not mean I can’t read “real” books anymore, and that I can use it when it is beneficial to do so and ignore it the rest of the time. He is absolutely, positively, completely right. I know this. And yet I am still oddly reluctant to place the order and actually buy the stupid thing.

Now I am not normally a girl plagued by purchasing indecision, especially for reading-related items. (teehee) Let’s be honest – a Kindle currently goes for $114, and I have spent that amount on a single bookstore purchase (online or in person) more than once. And that was for one set of books, not the ability to read an infinite number of them (thousands of which are free either due to their presence in the public domain or through the library). I am also not normally reluctant to buy a toy for myself. I am not extravagant in my electronics/entertainment purchasing, mind you, but I do own a television for each of the three bedrooms in my house plus the living room, multiple blu-ray players, more than one Bose product, and literally three drawers full of movies. None of these items broke the bank, but they are indicative of my non-Spartan approach to life and my own amusement. As a result, I can only conclude that my reluctance regarding the e-reader is not for the expense but for the item itself.

Even though I know in my head that buying the e-reader does not have to signal any sort of a sea-change in my reading habits or my approach to books/reading, and that my purchase will not single-handedly result in the death and/or destruction of the publishing industry and “real” books, in my heart I am still convinced that this purchase would mark the beginning of the end, somehow. And that thought scares me to death. I will no doubt get over this and end up making the purchase anyway, but boy-oh-boy, the decision will not be an easy one – for me or those around me (in real space or cyber-space), who will have to continue to hear me dither over it! 😉

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16 comments to I Think I Am Going to Have to Do It or “Sigh,” She Said

  • PK Hrezo

    Do it! they’re awesome for travel and beach days. And books are so much cheaper… plus saving trees! It’s different, sure, but you get used to it and there are advantages. 🙂

  • I just came to the same realization earlier this week. *sigh* I really dislike Amazon’s policies and the way they’ve handled themselves with ebooks, so I won’t be buying a Kindle, but the Nook looks nice and easily does everything I would want it to. I don’t think that ebooks will ever replace my love of print books, but it would be a nice option to have.

    • Yeah, it is a pretty sigh-inducing realization, isn’t it Jen?? I’m not usually anti-tech, honest (even though tech hates me), but on this one I have really struggled… I do think it’s becoming a necessary, well, if not “evil” at least a necessary “less than favorable” though… Thanks for your comment, and know that I’m in the boat with you on this one!

  • Rae

    Have you decided on which type to get? I had a Kindle and gave it to oldest daughter (who doesn’t live with me) to get a Nook Color, but if I had to do over again, I would get the new Nook that just came out this month!
    (p.s. not one author who submits books to me, however, has sent me e-pub format, so I have to accept pdf and convert it–something to consider).

  • Rod Griffiths

    Don’t worry, it won’t be the end of the world. I am reading your blog on my iPad at the moment, I use the Kindle app, iBooks, and I have a kobo and nook reder on it. I still buy books. I haven’t actually counted how many, but it needs a room full of book shelves to house them all.

  • E.

    Great Post, JE.
    I now do most of my reading on my ipad. But like you (like most of us),I still love books. But the truth is, like it or not, technology moves the world forward. How do you think all those wonderful calligraphers felt when Gutenberg invented the printing press? “That thing will never last! The print is ugly!”

    Whichever device you choose, I’m sure you will enjoy it. BTW just came back from vacation where I purchased two books while I was sitting on a chaise, staring at the ocean. Progress.


  • Oh no! Don’t go over to the dark side. Stay with me in the light!

  • Well E., I like the sound of picking something new and having it instantly while sitting beach-side… Rae, Rod & E, t sounds like having the e-reader hasn’t really changed anything about regular books for you, just introduced a new media opportunity – and I’m glad to hear that! And Dana, believe me, I’m fighting the good fight here, but I’m afraid I may have to travel into the shadows a smidge… 😉

    Thanks for sharing your perspectives everyone!!

  • Nikki-ann

    I love real books, but I love my Kindle too! I originally bought my Kindle thinking it would reduce the ever growing piles of books that I have here… It hasn’t… I think I buy even more books now! 😀

  • Do it!

    I was like you until I moved in with my other half and he bought me a Kindle. Apparently it was so he wouldn’t have to carry bags of books back to the library and we would actually have room to move in the house. I haven’t looked back since.

    You get used to reading on an e-reader very quickly, especially being able to get any book in 30 secs straight to your device, and you don’t miss paper books that much.

  • Thanks Nikki-ann and Tome Keeper – I think I’m going to go with the Kindle, and secretly suspect that I too will end up with even more books to read as a result… The ability to buy anytime, anywhere will NOT be a very good thing for me – teehee… 😉 Thanks for commenting/stopping by!

  • Rod

    The other problem with ebooks, at least so far, is that you can’t easily lend them to a friend. i end up buying books I’ve read on the ipad to give to other people.

    • Well Rod, I don’t lend a ton of books out – I have had issues getting them back once/twice and I’m an absolutely neurotic “DON”T CRACK THE SPINE!!” type reader and rarely does anyone else share my neurosis, so most of my friends don’t even want to borrow my books for fear of the look on my face when they give them back looking, let’s say “loved” and leave it at that. 😉 But I can see where it’d be an issue – I thought some of the programs let you “share” copies, but I don’t know much about that… Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment!

  • Rod

    Ha, another one like my wife! Really important books like signed editions of Terry Pratchett’s we buy two copies,so there is one for my kids and other miscreants to read.

  • Boy am I glad to hear you say that Rod – I was starting to worry a teensy bit that I was the only person with this particular attitude toward books… Tell your wife to keep the faith – I’m right there with her!!

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