The chaos and weirdness of the last 10 months have required us to adapt, to get used to being more alone, to adjust our previously steadfast habits. And last month, I did something I never thought I'd do: I bought a Kindle. I'm now living in the high-tech, Jetsons-like world of 2011.
This is unbelievably minor in the grand scheme of things, I know, but I've long been a book purist. The very idea of e-readers was anathema to me. When I read a novel, I want to be able to hold a physical copy of it, to feel the pages between my fingers, to visualize how much progress I've made and how much I've left to go.
There's also a sense of accomplishment in turning the last page and finally closing that back cover. Reading a book on a screen, meanwhile, doesn't feel all that different from scrolling to the end of a long internet article. There's a reason people don't log those on Goodreads.
If I can, I prefer to own the books I read. When Seinfeld derided people for keeping books in their house like trophies, I wanted to respond, "Yeah, exactly!"
I've been reading more than usual because of the lockdown, ordering new titles from Auntie's and Portland mainstay Powell's. But it was after my fourth or fifth shipment that I came to the conclusion that my bookworm/packrat proclivities are becoming untenable. I cling to just about every form of physical media — books, yes, but also records, BluRays and even VHS tapes — but there's one major downside to owning a lot of this stuff: Eventually, you run out of space.
A recent assessment of our household bookshelf inventory revealed that, even after casting off armfuls to a free library, they were fit to bust. So I gave in, and threw some money at a Kindle Paperwhite, which is about the size of an old dime-store paperback.
And I have to admit — it's pretty awesome. I can read in bed without a lamp or book light. I can read magazines and newspapers on it. I can download e-books from the public library — which has been an absolute godsend during the pandemic — and they pop up instantly on my device. They're just as easy to return when I'm done.
I realize this makes me sound like the hundredth caveman to think he discovered fire, but the stigma against e-books was merely self applied. It's a big step for a Luddite like me. Come 2026, maybe I'll finally buy that PS5. ♦