As a child if you wanted something to read (or you were being
forced encouraged to read by your over zealous parents who wanted to make sure you were on the track to greatness, at seven) you were probably taken to the library; I was taken to the garage.
My dad worked in publishing for all of his working life, and as a result, we were always surrounded by books: shelves were stacked high around the house and the garage was always full of boxes of books. My brother and I were always encouraged – although not forced! – to read, and from an early age books became part of my inner-circle; I remember rooting through those boxes in the garage, excitedly looking for my next read. And this love affair with books has continued throughout my life (well, maybe not during my MBA, but come on, three years of management books).
Home doesn’t feel like home unless there are book shelves (although we don’t keep everything we read as there is a lot of competition for space in our two-bedroom apartment – and shoes are important too). Libraries fascinate me, particularly the old-fashioned, grand ones with leather-bound books and big leather arm chairs: shelves and shelves of knowledge. And I find myself irrationally suspicious of people who don’t read.
I’m not in any way a snob about my choice of reading material; I was always brought up to read what I enjoy: sometimes that might be what is considered a well-written book, sometimes that might be utter trash (yes, I did give Fifty Shades a go).
Although, the love affair went through a rocky patch when I was unwell, and I didn’t have the energy to read; it was one of the many casualties of those dark days plastered to the bed or sofa. And you always knew when the CFS wasn’t so bad, as a book would bravely re-emerge on the bedside table.
A love like this is hard to give up – and I just can’t bring myself to even consider getting a Kindle. Which is a little weird when all the writing I do is on-line (here and other websites), and I happily read articles on-line. But that’s not the same, is it? Reading short pieces is a different type of reading to curling up with your book in bed (can you even curl up with a Kindle? They just don’t look that friendly).
Although, I use technology for so many areas of my life: my iPad and iPhone are definitely part of my inner-circle. And, like most of us, the Internet has changed the way I do many of my day-to-day activities, from banking, to shopping, to blogging, to Googling anything I urgently need to know. And I certainly don’t write anything without using Google, Wikipedia, and Wiktionary; I’m not reaching out for my Oxford English Dictionary, or Thesaurus – to be closer to books.
But to swap from books to a Kindle, oh, it just feels wrong. I know, I know, you can store all those books in one place, it’s so convenient, it’s this, it’s that. But – but, it isn’t a book (yes, I am stamping my feet). And they’re ugly aren’t they? It’s going to take more than a funky cover to sex up a Kindle.
I like the look of books; I like seeing one on my bedside table (and a Kindle of ugliness would be offensive to my silver crocodile print bedside cabinet); I like looking at the bookshelf in the lounge with all our Rough Guides and reminding ourselves of the places we’ve been (or even better the ones we’re going to); I like how a book feels; I like putting my book mark in place (no page folding here); I like, I like, I like…
But I’m sure there was plenty of people clinging onto their CDs when iPods first came out. And the first converters to Planet Pod no doubt sneered at those CD clingers, knowing they would eventually succumb. And yes, smug Kindle readers, I know you are sneering at me. Digital book sales are rising, and no doubt the trend – and sneering – will continue. But I just don’t care. (Yes, more feet stamping.)