Ok, I'll admit it. I'm the first to condemn anything that moves away from tradition. I distinctly remember a Vodafone advert that featured David Beckham texting pictures of himself doing 'keepie uppies' to various people in his contact book circa 2002 and I thought 'pfffffft like THAT will catch on!' Ten years later and I'm obsessed with Instagram and taking a selfie in public is considered near enough socially acceptable. Things have changed.
For me, reading has always been a pure pleasure. I mean 'pure' in the sense that it is uncomplicated, uncompromising and one of life's simple joys. Anything that endangered this was in my eyes, a travesty and to be condemned at all costs. I found myself asking why I was so vested in the physical act of reading and my answers led me in a direction I didn't quite expect. Was it because I so clearly remembered hours spent in a hammock reading a heavy copy of Harry Potter until I swore I got snow-blindness from staring at white pages? Was it because I thought that the old book shops I loved so much would evaporate before my eyes and with it the happy times spent starring at forgotten book titles? Was it because my collection of books, dog-eared and marked as they were, would be forgotten in history as relics of an insignificant past?
The conclusion that I came to didn't revolve around what I had held and when - it was the story, the process of reading, the gathering of favourite novels that I really cared about. Words aren't physical, after all.
Two years of university later and I'd acquired a growing shelf full of books I cared very little for (if anyone suggests that James Joyce's Ulysses is worth reading I will smack you over the head with all 1200 pages of it), I decided something had to give. A Kindle entered my life and I reluctantly had to admit that it had some clear benefits.
Texts published before 1900 don't have copyrights attached, so all those Georgian and Victorian classics got downloaded onto my kindle pronto. As such, satchel straps lasted longer than a month and my back straightened itself out after years of the '12 book shuffle'. Recalling quotes in seminars was became blissfully easy as I electronically highlighted quotes, which the kindle would store in one handy place. For some reason, I read faster on a tab too, which is pretty good when you've been set three Bronte novels to read in a week and can only drink so much coffee...
My only issue? Don't download any apps. If you're using it for reading, just read on it. Distractions come in all forms, especially touchscreen Pinterest!
Why the Printed Word?
One day I'll do a post about antique books. Today is not that day. In short, if Felix Felicis was waved under my nose it would smell mostly of dusty, antique book pages with an undertone of fields-after-rain and Christmas dinner. I love the tangibility of books. I like seeing where other people folded pages and paused for a rest. I love the inscriptions written to the owner on the inside page. Books tell two stories. The writer's story and the reader's story - tea spills and ink smudges included.
I am but one person and my bookshelf (and purse) is only so big. Quite often I'll buy an e-book and if I really like it (think 4/5 on the Snug rating), I'll invest in a special, hardback version to pop up on the shelf. A sign that yes, I loved this story and now it is a small part of me, up there next to Harry Potter, Jane Eyre and the Usborne Book of Fairy Stories. One day, when my eyes are shot to bits and they can't make glasses thick enough, I'll hand down my collection into worthy hands (I hope).
It doesn't matter how you read, it just matters that you read. It's the stories that matter, after all.
How do you prefer to read?