Since I can remember, I loved reading and being read to, when I haven’t learned to read yet( around the age of 5 year-old). My mom used to read me from a huge fairytale book of Brothers Grimm. Later on, when I learned to read a little, I remember I used to read a books with fairies for more than 10 times. I don’t know what I found so fascinating if I already knew how the story ended. Even now, after more than 10 years, I can still feel my fingers on a short story of the three pigs translated into French. The colors, the musicality of the words, and the covers made the experience almost magical.
Coming back in the present days, I now own my second Kindle and I love it. There was, however, a brief moment of more than a month where my first Kindle was ‘sick’. I send it to get repaired for free, or so I thought. Long story short, things did not got better and I was let known by the service guy that they can repair my Kindle at the same price as a new one. I decided to let it go, as the song goes.
What I wanted to talk is the period when I stayed without my Kindle. From 27th of November until January 8th, I read 10 books + 1 audiobook: poetry, autobiography, short stories, and novels. The thing is, my Kindle made me forget about my bookshelfs and my family’s huge library. Just a few days ago, I ‘stole’ more than ten books from my parents. I’m not sorry. Most of them are novels, the rest poetry.
I rediscovered what people against e-readers arguments: the smell of books, the texture, the history(I found a short story book that dated back to 1973), and the weight, because some of them were really heavy. Still I enjoyed each of them. I read on work breaks, before afternoon naps, and when I ate dinner.(the alternative was watching TV). I devoured a Virginia Woolf novel in less than 48 hours. I used pagemarkers and a heavy dictionary. It felt like a journey, it felt like an adventure.
A few days after the beginning of 2016, however, my new Kindle arrived in the mail. I was afraid to open it because I thought it would take away the magic. I read a short novel and it didn’t feel that awful, the adventure continued. Let me mention that I do not get distracted by Kindle or by the phone when I read, I keep both devices off the Wi-Fi, so no Instagram, no messages, and no beeping. With the ebook, just like with a real book, I take notes and I highlight quotes I love, the only difference being that on a book I note separably the number of page and line and on a kindle I just highlight with my finger. It also depends on the book. If you have to read a book and don’t like it at all, you won’t be able to retain anything, no matter the medium.
E-books are not the enemy. Our beliefes are. If you think that reading on an ereader will keep you away from a ‘mindful’ reading, you’ll be right. But if you are open to the story and focus on it rather than what you’ll remember later, you’ll be amazed. Trust me when I tell that even reading ‘real’ books won’t keep you away from forgetting. I, for instance, read some years back ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles. At that time, the book(with more than 600 pages) was all I could think of for quite a few days. Now, thinking back, I cannot remember more than the place of the story – a greek Island and London – and the end that was ‘OK’ for the main character. Same story with Anna Karenina, just a few more memories: she was unhappily married with a child, she found someone else, she had another baby with him, she died.
What I am trying to say is that whatever medium you use to read, you still forget. And with the load of information that ‘floats’ around us everyday, these times are especially hard to remember what we read last month.
The hopes aren’t lost. So, keep close your new/old book, your ereader, iPod( audiobooks), and newspapers/magazines. They aren’t going anywhere.
As for the debate books-ebooks here are some of the most interesting articles:
- The Deep Space of Digital Reading
- Future reading
- The E-Books vs. Print Books Debate Arises Again, and This Time, There’s Talk of Digital “Dying Out”
What are your thoughts? Books, ebooks, or both?