My inner nerd loves paper books; my inner geek grooves on my tidy little tablet – what about you?
My Accomplice tells me that when he was small, he often dreamed of a television he could carry around with him, so that he could watch his shows whenever he wanted, and whenever he chose.
I always wanted a library. An entire room dedicated to books. Not a tiny room, either. I wanted the floor to ceiling bookcases, stuffed to overflowing, ringing the room. Comfy couches and chairs, and rugs, and a fireplace. French doors leading out to a patio. That railed letting that runs along the wall in fancy libraries, even though I’m more than a little uncertain where ladders are concerned.
I really wanted All. The. Books.
These days, as a woman midway into my forties, I see it differently. I was expressing a certain set of needs and desires with my childhood dream. Books were the moving force in my life back then. They were an escape from a volatile home life, the bullying and stultification that marked much of my school days. They gave me adventures that I could never have in my own life, let my peek through windows into others’ lives, maybe even crawl into their skins. Every book I read made me bigger and richer on the inside, because I learned from each and every one. I learned to read in the midst of chaos, and that made me powerful within myself.
But the books I had access to then were controlled by the adults in my life. I could not read at the table, or outside, for much of my childhood. Teachers had rules for what could be read, and when. Sometimes, they even passed judgment on my personal reading – my sixth grade reading teacher insisted that I couldn’t have read the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass – even though I owned it, and had read it. Years later, a History teacher would tell me that I was “too young” to be reading the North and South series by John Jakes. I was seventeen, and my parents had bought them for me as a Christmas gift.
I was limited to the books in the school library and at home, unless I borrowed or traded with a friend. We didn’t go to libraries, and there was none within walking distance. I didn’t have an allowance, and no income until I started babysitting at age 12. Once or twice a year, I was allowed to buy a few things from the Scholastic Book Club. But adults definitely had the ability to limit my book exposure as they chose. Forbidding me to read was the most dreaded non-physical punishment I knew.
So, maybe that fancy library is a reflection of that desire for freedom for the boundaries of a rather constrained childhood, a flinging-wide of the doors of my imagination, and a yearning for the thrills of excess…
Whatever the reason, it’s not what I want now. While I’ll always have some paper books around, because it feels right to have the faces and forms of old friends, new friends, and potential future friends nearby where I can see them, there’s something else I love.
It’s my Kindle Fire, and the way it can hold virtual stacks of books in one slim little device. Not to mention videos, audiobooks, games, images, music, and web browsing….
It’s a little like having the television and the library in one neat little package.
That suits me, these days. The things I own use up bits of my time, and I see now that shelves upon shelves of books would make for quite a burden – on resources, space, the shelves, my emotions (being faced with things I’ m not getting around to can lead me to feelings of guilt. The space wouldn’t be there to be used for other things, I’d want to dust and eliminate pests…and, should we move, I’d need to decide what to do with them, and process them accordingly.
It’s a lot of obligation, at least to my current perception. For the last several months, I’ve been gradually winnowing my personal collection of books. and acquiring nearly all of my new reading purchases online. Am I choosing the Kindle over print books?
No – I’m choosing both; just looking for a blend that suits my pleasure in holding a book in my hands, turning its pages, and having memories triggered each time I see it again; and also my satisfaction in having months’ worth of reading, pages I can mark up and notate without damaging them, and a form that lets me take a whole stack of books nearly anywhere.
Why choose one or the other, when I can have both? =D
How about you? Do you have a foot in both camps? Or are you devoted to print; enamored of your e -reader? I’d love to hear your take on this!