Monday, June 20, 2011

I Done Got Me One

I can’t remember a time when books weren't important to me. As I’ve mentioned here before, I can remember my mother reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me when I was three or four; the first book I bought on my own; the monthly Scholastic Book Club at school; and the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift.

I remember my father forbidding me to Sunday Night at the Movies on TV when the movie was On The Beach, based on the novel by Nevil Shute and about the last days on earth after a nuclear war. I couldn’t watch it, so I bought the book instead.

My 8th grade reading teacher introduced us to Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, a science fiction novel called Day of the Triffids and another novel about nuclear war, Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon. She got into trouble for assigning us to read William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, which was a bit heavy for 13-year-olds. She had to rescind the assignment. I read it anyway.

My mother wanted to read Peyton Place by Grace Metalious when it was published in paperback, but was too embarrassed to buy it herself. So she sent me on my bike to the drugstore to get it. She read it, and I did, too.

Other book memories crowd in: reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged when I should have been studying for a history exam; reading Don Quixote for the first time in high school and almost 30 years later during a beach vacation; reading Twain and Dickens and discovering C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton; and discovering Latin American literature, with names like Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda. And the poetry books!

I love books: I love to hold them and touch them. I love the smell of bookstores and used bookstores. I love beautiful books, like The Four Holy Gospels illustrated by Makoto Fujimura.

So what on earth am I doing with my new Father’s Day present – a Kindle?

The opportunity to buy one has been there for quite a while, but in this case I wasn’t an early adopter, nor was I eager to be one. I don’t like reading a manuscript or a book on the computer. But I decided to see what there was to this ebook reader thing, and if would really work.

It arrived Thursday. The instructions were simple and clear. Within 10 minutes of opening the package, I had purchased and downloaded a book – Gravestone by Travis Thatcher.

Someone put some thought into the Kindle’s design. The screen isn’t back-lit, which makes it easy to read. Turning pages is simple – hitting that side tab. It charges quickly. It’s surprisingly small – 4 ¾” by 7 ½” by ¼”.It comes preloaded with two dictionaries, and it was already registered to me. And my wife, who has suffered through almost 38 years of books dominating bedrooms and basement, is thrilled with the fact that the Kindle will hold 3500 books.

So now I’ll learn how important the physical aspect of books really is to me. So far, it’s a hit.

The only drawback is that it doesn’t smell like a bookstore.

Top photograph: Old Books by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission. Kindle photo by yours truly via my smart phone.


JofIndia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cassandra Frear said...

Oh no! Not you, too?

We analog readers are a dying breed.

Will I ever be converted? I squint my eyes and try to imagine it, but as yet no vision appears.

JofIndia said...

A Kindle? Snap! I took advantage of being in Britain to order mine a couple of days back...

And it has just been delivered - as I write this!

Goodbye for now. In the words of the brave Captain Oates, "I may be gone some time..."

Michael said...

I've been reading on one for about 7 months now. And I'm a huge fan. My wife loves it too because I'm not cluttering her house up.

Louise Gallagher said...

Ah yes. Like you, I too have resisted but I recently got an IPad and.... IBooks is now my favourite read.

It is so easy, versatile and portable.

I still love books. Love having them piled up all around me -- but, I do like my new electronic reading device!

Linda said...

Thank you for this Glynn. I've been see-sawing back and forth - to buy or not to buy? I'm afraid I would miss the smell, the feel, the thrill of opening a book. However, the thought of 3500 books in my hot little hands....sigh.

Anonymous said...

oh hot diggidy dog! you got a new toy! um....i mean...very important device for research.

i went about it indirectly...i bought one for my youngest for a christmas present. and...well, let's just say that i've borrowed it several times.

i downloaded a book for our upcoming trip to indiana.
she does not seem to mind sharing it with far.
but, she wants it for the trip as well. hummmm of course...she gets dibs.
i just know you're gonna be sneaking that thing along everywhere you go.

why do so many people love the smell of books?

i love the smell of books...except for musty ones, of course.

katdish said...

Be sure to search the classics. Many of them free on the kindle. And reading an MS on a kindle is much better than reading it on a computer. Seems more real.

Maureen said...

Doesn't smell like a bookstore? There must be an app for that.

Enjoy. My husband, also a huge book-buyer, reads on his i-Pad but has yet to stop buying books.

Kelly Sauer said...

Yeah, I'm still not sure I want to make that transition. There's something REAL about a book, about writing that's not on a screen...

Anonymous said...

Heyyyy... ! Congrats on the perfect gift for Glynn!

I don't have a Kindle, but I have an ipad, which has a book reader app on it, which I haven't used yet (not until I finish all the hard-cover books waiting to be read!)