WHY I DON’T HAVE A KINDLE:
As I mentioned at the top of Friday’s post (11 Ingredients of a Sizzling Book Description) I have temporarily relocated to France for a few weeks. It’s a sort of self-imposed writing retreat that I’m only too happy to self-impose, as you can imagine. I did it last year too, and if there was one thing I learned (well, two; I also learned that bringing your entire West Wing box set doesn’t lead to productivity), it was to bring enough books to last me the length of my stay. There’s only a couple of places here that stock English books, and if I haven’t read them already, rest assured they cost twenty-five or thirty percent more than they do at home and I need the money I have for baguettes and cafe cremes and making the most of the dazzling display that is the average French supermarket’s yogurt aisle.
So since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been stockpiling books. It was nice, actually, watching them pile up—I didn’t have any time to read over the last couple of months, so the prospect of being able to get to them all some day soon seemed like a surreal daydream. And last Tuesday, by some miracle, I managed to fit twenty-five of them into my luggage and lug them here without paying an extra cent. The paperbacks got stacked upright in the bottom of my checked bag; the hardbacks lay flat in my carry-on, under my computer.
But I’ve no shoes. A pair of flip-flops and a pair of ballet flats, and that’s it. And they only got to come because they pack flat. And nothing remotely warm to wear, even though it occurs to me now that it’ll be the end of November when I return home and that even before then, the nights here will be pretty chilly. And although I managed to squeeze the Babyliss Big Hair down the side of the bag, there was no room for my hairdyer, and the one here seems to be more for eyelashes.
So why did I sacrifice shoes, clothes and hairdryer space for 25 books that could all have fit onto something smaller than one of them, along with a thousand more?
Why haven’t I bought a Kindle, if even only for traveling?
I asked myself the same question as I thought I heard something snap (a vertebrae…?) during my effort to hoist a 10kg+ place into the overhead baggage compartment while looking like it’s as light as a feather because really you shouldn’t put things that weight into the overheads.
The answer is value added joy.
Kindle purists will say that I’ve wasted money on the physical books (when I could’ve had the e-book editions for less, in most cases) and that I’ve wasted space in my luggage packing them (when a Kindle would’ve fit in my back pocket). They’ll also say that in the near future, when the books are read, I’ll waste more space storing them on a shelf, and that by then, they’ll be utterly pointless objects: books already read, gathering dust.
But they’re wrong. Totally wrong. Because as I’ve said before (Why, For Me, Print Will Never Be Extinct), reading is just one of the pleasures I get from my books. I love the books themselves; I love arranging them on my bookcase or stacked on a tabletop or carefully placed in my beach bag; I love seeing them around me, both waiting to be read and as a reminder of where I was when I read them.
Take the three books above, just as an example. Aren’t they beautiful things? The Next Best Thing reminds me of L.A.—just glancing at the cover makes me think back to my fabulous trip there in June. I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette on the beach in the sun last week, and I loved it. So now every time I see that book, I feel a flutter of joy at the memory, both of being on the beach and of laughing my head off at the hilarious words inside. And I haven’t read Beautiful Ruins yet, but the exquisite cover has had me thinking of the Italian coast since the day it arrived in an Amazon box, and I’m saving it for a reading session in a town that looks a lot like the cover art, a day that might start in a waterside cafe before moving to a pebble beach, carry onto the train and end back here in the apartment with a coffee on the cooling balcony and the fading heat of summer skin, where I’ll reach THE END and close the book, smile to myself, and know that not only have I had the most wonderful day, but that forever more catching a glance of that beautiful cover art, the mere glimpse of the title on the spine, will bring me straight back to that day, a permanent, tangible, physical reminder of that joy, the book itself now the flip of a switch that sends happiness spreading through my heart.
Your move, Kindle.
WHY I WILL HAVE A KINDLE SOON:
I wrote everything above this morning (I’m writing this on Thursday), and that was where the post was supposed to stop.
But then a couple of things happened. First, I got an e-mail about something that would involve reading e-books because there’s no physical equivalent; the books are only being published in electronic form. And if I have to read an e-book, I’d pick a Kindle over a computer screen or tiny phone any day. Second, I finished The Treatment by Mo Hayder.
I can’t quite believe that I’ve let myself, a crime fiction fan, get this far into life without reading anything by Mo Hayder. I brought Birdman and The Treatment with me, and read them both in the last three days. The Treatment was probably one of the best crime novels I’ve ever read, and it gave me nightmares last night. This morning its ending nearly had me in tears.
And I immediately wanted to read the next book in the series. Like, now.
But I can’t. I have to wait until I go back home, or scour the slim pickings of English books around here in the hope of not only finding a Mo Hayer title, but the next one in the series.
How much easier it would’ve been, this morning, to boot up a Kindle and download the next book straightaway, be reading it within seconds…
And The Treatment is a paperback. I turned it over in my hands this morning, just post-THE END, and thought about how, unlike the books described above, I’ll never glance at it and think, Oooh, what a wonderful time I had reading that! And it won’t just be because it’s subject matter would forbid such a response—it’s because the book is just your average book, not especially pretty or special.
I’d be okay just reading it on a Kindle, is what I’m saying. (I think.)
So maybe the time is coming. Soon. There’s work-related things I have to read and sometimes, they don’t come in a physical copy. And not all books come with value added joy. Maybe one of these days—these days on this side of Christmas—I’ll open an Amazon box, and inside it will be the Kindle I ordered.