On Digital Books

Tuesday: Library

I’m a reader.
I always have been* – my darling mother maintains it’s because she read to me a lot when I was but a wee bairn** – and it baffles me when I encounter people who just DON’T read***. I can’t think of anything better than spending the day with a good book. I always have one or two on the go – at the moment I’m reading I Never Knew That About London, Nerd Do Well, and The Swan Thieves – and it’s gotten to the point where, unless the weather is truly foul, I refuse to watch movies or TV until after 5pm. Somehow I feel like a day watching TV is wasted while a day reading? most definitely not.

When Craig and I were in Pauanui and it rained every damn day (save one) he and his brothers would sit in the lounge and bemoan their boredom. I on the other hand, always had a book.
But they’re not readers. And that’s fine too! I don’t believe that you HAVE to be a reader to have a well rounded life, I just think that it saves a lot of time trying to think of something to do.

I also love books.
I love having a heaving bookshelf and the rate at which I buy books? is frankly terrifying. I love choosing which edition of a book to buy based on the cover, I love the smell of second hand books, and I love dogeared corners and a lined spine.
One of the worst moments I’ve had was when we were packing up our flat in London and I had to decide which books to keep, which to ship home, and which to give away. Craig didn’t understand how this process lead to me bawling on the floor, surrounded by piles upon piles of books, but I think he now gets that, to me at least, books are beloved****.

I was loath to use eBooks. I thought that nothing would replace paper and ink. I guess it still hasn’t but, since buying my iPad and downloading the Kindle app on both the iPad and my iPhone, I’m coming around to the idea.
I find that I’m reading more than ever. Having the Kindle app on my iPhone means that I can hold my phone and read a few pages while I’m waiting in line at a shop, or if work happens to have a quiet moment, or if I’m at rehearsal and not due on stage for awhile. During the era of giant bags I always carried a book with me, but now that I’ve downsized my bag and carry my DSLR with me there is room for little more than a slim paperback.
But on my phone? I have 11 different books. Autobiographies, thrillers, classics, two memoirs about forensic anthropology, and a couple of other novels.
Oh and I love that I can read weighty tomes without having to worry about holding them up (or accidentally dropping them on my face). My arms remain noodle-y but I’m okay with that.

By far, though, my favourite thing about eBooks is footnotes.
Footnotes in a real life book make me feel anxious (crazy alert!). I see them at the bottom of the page and I scan the page of text to find where exactly that pesky little asterisk is***** trying my hardest not to read ahead. Once found I make a mental note of approximately where on the page it occurs and only THEN can I actually read the page in peace. So annoying. In digital books you don’t notice the footnote until you’re right up on it because they aren’t REALLY footnotes, they are end notes. And you don’t have to flick through the pages to get to them, you click on the asterisk or the number and the book jumps to the appropriate end note and once you’ve read it, you tap the asterisk/number again and it takes you right back to the page you were reading before the aside. Like magic. It’s much less stressful.

So I guess I’m coming around to this whole digital book thing.
I doubt I’ll ever make the leap to being completely book-free but then … I used to think the same thing about CDs. Now I don’t think I own a single one.

The world is wonderful place. But there is a lot of waiting around. I’m glad I will always have a book with me.

Secondhand books

* though I do remember there being a time when we were FORCED to read for half an hour before bed. I’m so thankful my parents did that.
** nope. Don’t know why I decided to use that phrase.
*** Craig isn’t a reader. He does read if he likes a book (he recently read all of Danny Wallace’s books for example, and he’s read the Harry Potter series) but it’s not his default activity.
**** I think we ended up spending about £60 to ship 4 packages of books to New Zealand.
***** I also find it slightly ironic that they bug me so much and yet I use them so often.

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3 comments

  1. TaraChameleon · February 19, 2011

    ha. i have never seen our library look so tidy 😛 that's a first 😉

  2. Sarah-Rose · February 22, 2011

    Yes – it was deep in the non-fiction section!

  3. Kat · March 20, 2011

    Hee you are adorable. I am not so big a reader, but used to be, and used to devour so many books. I think somewhere along the line (and with moving overseas), TV and digital books took over and apart from my "Jewish Library", I don't own any! Dave has soooo many.Also, bairn! hee!

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