I have many, many books. Some might say too many, although I wouldn’t. You can never have too many books.
My living room is scattered with the proverbial coffee table books, even though I don’t have a coffee table—picture books of San Francisco and Ireland; postcard collections of Dale Chihuly’s glass creations; numerous books about food, spices, and cooking; a thick illustrated tome with pages from artists’ journals; and many, many more.
I have a small bookcase in my bedroom closet that is stuffed with about 150 books waiting to be read—how-to books, travel essays, journaling prompts, literary criticism. The piles have been growing and changing for quite some time and some of the books have been purchased years and years ago now, always being buried under another new book. I’m determined to read them all.
The bookcase in the guest bedroom is filled with the books I’ve read and loved, waiting to be shared with visitors or re-read when the mood strikes me—art history textbooks, the entire Harry Potter collection, Madeline and Eloise books from childhood, stories of operas, Italian folktales.
I love buying new books—feeling the heft and weight in my hands; running fingers over the smooth, crisp, unwrinkled pages; reading the inside cover flaps and the author quotes on the back cover; and most importantly, opening up the unknown world found inside (South American cooking, life-size treehouses, the history of burlesque).
So when the Kindle first came out, I shrugged. So what? Big deal! Electronic books? How horrible to read those dull little words on a changing flat screen and not being able to dog-ear pages, highlight cool quotes, underline passages and write notes in the margin. I would never make the move to e-books! Can you imagine missing out on the wonder of getting lost in the stacks at Barnes & Noble on a Saturday? Of discovering a cookbook or a hardcover classic in the bargain section of Borders that you thought was out-of-print? Smelling the paper and being mesmerized by the colorful spines with the various fonts, names you know, many that are new.
Then, last year, out of the blue, my boss asked if I had a Kindle and what I thought of it, because his daughter had asked for one for Christmas. It made me a little curious, so I went on-line and started researching. Less than a half-hour later, I had emailed my mom and told her that the #1 thing on my Christmas list was a Kindle. I just had to have one.
So I’ve had my Kindle for a year now, and it’s one of the best gadgets I own. My Kindle has 550 books in it, most of them downloaded for free, about three-quarters of them classics. I read The New York Times on it every morning, and I subscribe to several blogs.
This isn’t meant to be an advertisement for the Kindle. I’m not going to argue why it’s better or worse than any other e-reader available. My only point here is to say once I thought people with e-readers were disloyal, enemies of books and authors. But a year later, my Kindle has made me a better reader. I always have a book with me (or 550—who’s counting?). If I suddenly think about an author or a title I want to read, I can immediately download the book and start reading 60 seconds later. I’ve re-collected once treasured books that had not survived several moves without having to spend a dime on them. I can highlight passages and type notes and easily sort through them on a single screen later on. When I travel for work I don’t have to lug a ton of books in my carry-on or make a tough choice about what I might be in the mood to read while on the road. And every day I toss my Kindle in my purse and bring an entire library to work with me.
I still read actual books, and I still plan to read through the stacks in my closet bookcase. I’m a devoted reader; now, even more so, although I have to admit I’m starting to feel a little pressure, as my virtual “to-be-read” pile is mounting up and overtaking the hard-copy stack. So many (e-)books, so little time!