Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Trips and e-reading

I'm getting ready to go on a girl's trip. I am missing my daughter's ten zillionth dance recital. I am missing my son's junior prom. But aside from telling my husband that he needs to take pictures of these events for me, the biggest concern I have is what to take with me to read. Now, this is probably an unnecessary concern given that we are going to New Orleans for the Romantic Times Convention so there will be hundreds or thousands of choices there but as a former Girl Scout, I always want to be prepared. Now, when I admit to people that I need to take multiple books with me even if it is only for a long weekend, most people gush, "I love my [insert e-reader of choice here]" and I always have to admit that I don't like reading electronically.

I should come clean here and admit that I've been saying this for years without actually trying it. Yes, don't tell my children but I've been as bad as they are when I put an unusual vegetable on their plates. I have completely dismissed this ever growing way to read ever since it became possible. My excuses? "I'm a Luddite and not really a gadget person." "There's nothing like the feel of a physical book." "I don't like reading on a screen." "I'm just contrary." (This last one is my favorite.) But I finally, this past weekend, read a book electronically. Yes, I've had an e-reader for years compliments of my husband who is always trying to find me the perfect present I haven't already bought myself. Bless the man, he tries. He's generally just a bit off (like never noticing my comments about e-readers) but I love him anyway. In any case, I have had the thing plugged in and waiting for literally years now. So this weekend, I tried it. And you know what? I'm a Luddite and not really a gadget person. There's nothing like the feel of a physical book. I don't like reading on a screen, And yes, I'm just contrary. Man, I love having my preconceived notions confirmed!

Now, before I have anyone jump on me and suggest that I went into the whole thing with a bad attitude, let me say nay.  Nay, I say.  I really tried to go into it with an open mind. But the feel was all wrong. Neither "swiping" a page nor tapping one side of the page, ahem--excuse me--the device, replicates the slow, seductive feel of a page sliding through your thumb and finger. I could not flip backwards and forwards while holding my place. I could not check to see when a chapter ended or accurately calculate how much more I had to read. I could not (did not want to) carry it around with me clutched to my chest as I absorbed what I had just read. I couldn't take it in the car with me and leave it on the seat while I ran errands. The screen didn't look like paper no matter what the manufacturers might claim. The heft of the thing was all wrong. I actually like holding my pages open. I like seeing if the bookmark (another thing I have a weakness for incidentally, bookmarks) looks halfway through the book or not. I like the smell of books; electronics just smell weird. Sure, it was the same story as in the physical book but the experience didn't even come close to living up to reading the old-fashioned way. I guess I'm just forever a physical book girl.

In the spirit of the romance novels I'm sure to pick up this weekend, reading electronically for me was like sex without love. The mechanics were all there but it was devoid of that best, intangible bit. So if the dire predictions of the death of the physical book ever come to pass, I'll just hole myself up with my own collection and reread. OK, given my book hoarding collecting, I probably have enough to keep me going until I'm 350 years old without rereading but I will always be able to touch and connect with those books on a physical level that just isn't there for me on the screen. But when people ask me why I don't read electronically, I'll probably still tell them "I'm just contrary" because the whole sex without love analogy might make people think I'm weird or something.

Oh, and does anyone want to volunteer to pay for my overweight baggage after this weekend comes to a close? ::grin::


  1. I'm in even worse shape -- I like my ereader, and I still like my text books. I just took a weekend trip which I knew would involve very little time for reading, and I brought my NOOK with its 50 or so books plus the five I got from the library, and I brought 4 books that I also want to read and I wasn't sure which one I would be in the mood for depending on how the weekend went.

    Why can't you bring your ereader in the car with you while you run errands? That confused me. I bring my book and my ereader, but I don't the ereader is supposed to replace all the back-up books.

    1. I can take it in the car but I can't just toss it on the passenger seat and leave it like I can a book, at least not without worrying that someone will try to break into the car and take it. Plus, the excessive heat around here is not kind to electronics if they are left in the car for the duration of a grocery shop. Just ask my phone how I know that. :-P

    2. Ah, I take it into the store with me. Long lines at the checkout, I might need the back-up book...


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