While reading over coffee this morning (A Sudden Light, by Garth Stein. Amazing book!) I got to a point where I wantedsobadlysosobadly to flip ahead and see if my suspicions were correct. It took all my readerly reserve to stop myself. If a book is only okay, I’ll often flip ahead to see if it’s going where I think it is. Sometimes, it’s the only excitement I have throughout the reading. But with a book like this one–oh, how delicious the suspense, and the abstinence. There’s the satisfying feel of pages under your fingertip, place saving with another. The tactile/olfactory nature of reading, for those of us who did not grow up with smartphones and tablets, is a real thing. It evokes every book we’ve ever read. The rainy days, the sunshine on pages, the beach, the library. No need for power chargers or wifi; all one needs is enough light to read by. And if the tide comes up and drenches a book, sunshine will dry it out. Failing that, replacing it with another copy of said book is far less expensive than replacing an ereader.
Don’t you know there are always “buts” in my posts? I love my ereader. No matter how many pages the book is, my Kindle always weighs the same. I can bring my entire library with me on vacation, and if I read through all my books, another one is a click away. The pesky desire to page ahead gets quashed before I think the thought, because it really is a pain in the butt to do so on an ereader. (I’ve a Paperwhite, not the more sophisticated versions.) If I can’t sleep in the middle of the night, I don’t have to worry about waking Frankie D with a reading light or leave my comfy bed to spare him. I can read anytime, anywhere. And, though I don’t need to do so yet, I can adjust the size of the text for my ever-aging eyes.
Ebooks are almost always less expensive, comparing like with like. And while I can often buy a print book for pennies on Amazon second-hand, I can usually spend a little more for the e-version and ensure the writer gets paid a royalty. As a writer myself, that means something to me. If I read a book on my ereader and really love it, I’ll buy a print copy. I seek out first edition, hard covers and/or signed copies first–after all, I already bought the book once so the author will forgive me for losing out on a second royalty–to add to my collection.
Oral history was sacred. The keepers of the stories were the most important in any tribe. Respected. Revered. Magical. Writing made oral history accessible to all who could read. Widespread literacy (a fairly new phenomenon, I might add) made it accessible to everyone. However you absorb a story, be it audio, electronic, or print, it is sacred. Some more than others, perhaps. There is no better way to get a story into our brains, there is only different. And, currently, a multitude of ways to do so.
How do you read? Audiobooks? Ebooks? Print books? And why? Curious oysters want to know.