Sunday, January 15, 2012

In Defense of Books (you know... the ones made of paper...)

Dear friends,

I own a Kindle.  I bought it in preparation for my trip to Bangladesh at the end of last summer.  I bought the simplest version available (for $114) because I wanted it to be as much like reading a book as possible and didn't want to be distracted by email notifications, etc. while reading (imagine my annoyance when, just 1 month later, Kindle announced their even simpler version for a much simpler $79...).  And it works out pretty well.  I can read a book with no e-Distractions from my e-Reader.  There are many other positives that come from having a Kindle (or any other e-Reader):  it's small, packs easily, it's easy to hold and I can "turn the page" with one hand, it's wonderful for travel because it allows me to take a number of books along on a trip without taking up much space and if I run out of books to read, I can download a new one as long as I have some form of internet. 

As a person who travels often, for long periods of time, and to non-English speaking countries, I really can't do without the Kindle.  But...  Do I love it?  Well, I have read 15 books on my Kindle since August, and not one of them made my Favorite Books of 2011 list.

I don't love it, but I couln't quite put my finger on why I didn't.  ... until our recent trip to Sanibel, that is...  One of the first orders of business for my mom and I on the trip was to stop at Sanibel Island Bookshop for some new beach reads.  (Quick plug:  this place is the absolute BEST!  The women that work in the shop will spend 30 minutes with you, talking about books that they've loved and books they think you'll love, based on what you've enjoyed in the past.  In fact, 4 of the 6 books on my favorites list came from this bookshop during last year's vaccation!)  As I was browsing the books, trying to pick out some new favorites, IT HIT ME:  the Kindle is great, but I just don't connect to books when I read them on my e-Reader.  I'm a totally visual and tactile person and there's just something about the feel of a book in my hands and the emotional connection to the cover art that draws me into a book and lets me escape.  I don't like walking through a bookshop and not recognizing books that I've read just weeks earlier.  I like noticing a book I've read and feeling the love that I felt for it when I closed the cover 10 months ago come rushing back to me (I feel the same way when I see my favorite perfume - I know... I'm strange).  I get that with paper books.  I don't get it with Kindle books.  Plus, BONUS, I love the way all of my paper books look stacked on my bookshelves!  I'm sorry, Kindle.  I like you, but I don't love you... 

Here is a list of some of the Kindle books I read that I think I would have loved if I'd read the paper versions:

Sara's Key (I know, I know.  I should probably buy the paperback and read it again because this is one great book).
The Paris Wife I could love this book for the cover alone!  It's not a super happy or warmandfuzzy book, but it's a good one, nonetheless.
How to Love an American Man  As a moderate feminist, I thought I was going to hate this book.  But, for anyone still looking for love, or just looking for a good, heart-warming (and true!) story, this book is a must read.
The Soldier's Wife If you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and loved it (like I did), you'll love this one, too.  Or, if you enjoy historical fiction (with a slightly "love-y" twist), this is a good read.
Joy For Beginners.  I liked this one a lot, but would have had stronger feelings (I'm quite sure) about the paper version.

And here's a book that I got from Sanibel Island Bookshop and read in a day and a half:

Here's another "If you loved Guernsey, you'll love this one" book.  So...  Like I said, I read this in less than two days.  Then, I ran right back to the bookstore to get Jio's first book, The Violets of March.  They didn't have the book for sale, though, but they did have an Advanced Reader's Copy that the author had sent to the bookshop but it wasn't for sale.  The woman working in the bookshop handed me the book and said, "Here.  Read it and bring it back when you're done."  But I was leaving the next day.  So, she said, "Well, just bring it back next time you visit Sanibel."  FOR REAL!  That happened!  I can't wait to read it... (and then take it back next year).

So...  These are my two cents.  I know some of you (mom) to whom I would never DARE give an e-Reader as a Christmas gift and I know others of you who LOVE your e-Readers.  To each their own.

Will I stop using my Kindle? Definitely not. When I take long trips, it will be my go-to reader. But, for the majority of the year, when I'm reading in the comfort of my own bed, paper books with their bright, dreamy covers are where it's at for me... 

What camp are YOU in?  Good, old-fashioned paper books?  Or e-Reader all the way?


  1. Old-fashioned all the way! I also get an emotional connection out of the physical experience of reading a book. I like to read my favorites over and over again, and see wet spots on pages that made me cry. There's nothing like it! And one bonus of living in the U.S. is that paper books are cheap. I imagine the e-readers would be more valuable in Europe or NZ where books are super expensive.

  2. I'm afraid practical-me wins over emotional-me .... Except on the beach. No sand on my iPad please!