Those of you who read my review of Seveneves last week got to see my brand new toy, a lovely Amazon Kindle given to me by my even lovelier partner. He surprised me with it pretty out of the blue–it’s not anywhere near my birthday, an anniversary, or anything like that. When I asked him about this, he just shrugged. “I’ve just really wanted to get you one of these for a while, because it’s pretty ridiculous that you of all people don’t have one,” he said. Now that I’ve had it for a little while, I have to agree with this assessment. What took me so long?
It’s always struck me as silly that when eReaders started becoming popular, some people acted like everyone would have to sort themselves into Team eReader or Team Paper Books. I never felt any sort of moral opposition to getting an eReader (other than perhaps an ambivalence towards Amazon, but more on that later). My holdout was the same one that kept me from getting a smart phone for a really long time: I just didn’t feel like I needed one. I had (and still have) plenty of physical books that I’ve yet to read (and this only became more true in the year I spent working at a used bookstore, a job that came with a pretty sweet employee discount). Plus, shopping at a bookstore is something that I enjoy simply as an activity, and I knew that because of this, I was always going to have a stack of unread books waiting for me. I just didn’t see the need to add eBooks to the mix. The part that I wasn’t thinking about enough is that the eReader has its own unique advantages, and that having both options available ultimately equals more reading time (which is obviously a game-changer).
I could tell you about the comfort of holding the Kindle (I now thoroughly enjoy reading books while lying on my side, propping the Kindle in the crook of my elbow) and the convenience of its portability, but you’ve probably already thought about those things. My favorite things about the Kindle are the things I hadn’t thought of. The first: it’s so easy to read while eating now! This has been an ongoing nuisance for me. I’ve never particularly minded eating alone (and with weird schedules, it’s often a necessity), but I’ve always wished I could read a book while doing so, and I’ve always found this SO HARD to do. It’s hard to hold both the book and your food, it’s hard to keep the book open while you’re also taking a bite, it’s hard to turn the pages…surely other people must struggle with this, right!? In this regard, the Kindle has honestly been a revelation for me. I just set it down on the table in front of me and use the tip of my pinkie finger to “turn” the page. My solo-meals have improved SIGNIFICANTLY. The other thing I love is being able to read anywhere. I used to get scolded by my mother for reading books on a couch in our living room that didn’t have any sources of light directly behind it: now, I can read comfortably anywhere. This combined with the meal thing has given me so many more pockets of time in my day that can be filled with a book, which seems like such a little thing, but really adds up. The other feature I love is the ability to look up new words simply by tapping on them. (My Kindle even collects every word I look up and saves it for me to review in a flashcard feature. Be still, my little nerd heart).
This blog post might sound like sponsored content, and for that I’m sorry. I just genuinely didn’t know what I was missing by not getting an eReader, and I wanted to share my experience with other booklovers. It’s not like it’s taking over my reading habits completely, in part because I feel ambivalent about Amazon and wouldn’t want ALL of my book shopping to be funneled through them. (I think it’s very important to support independent booksellers and publishers whenever possible). And of course, I still feel all the sentimentality and romance of physical books. I still like looking at the cover every time I pick them up, I still like the way they feel in my hand, and yes, I still like the way they smell. But the point is that the eReader doesn’t replace the physical books I still love, and it doesn’t have to. It’s just an AMAZING supplement, one that has directly and tangibly led to more reading time in my day. That was just too exciting not to share.