On Reading

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I was chatting with a friend on Facebook today about reading and somehow ended up on a tangent about how I feel about Kindles vs. Books. As an avid reader, this is a debate I’ve become all too familiar with over the years. In the interest of full discretion, I am a proud Kindle owner. I have owned three Kindles in the past 4 years (and, as with many of my physical books, I have passed on my old models to friends and family who don’t have Kindles–gotta spread the love!).

I’ve decided to repost that text here a) because I’m exhausted today and don’t feel like coming up with a completely different way of saying the exact same thing and b) it reads like one of my blog posts anyway:

I love real books, but nothing beats the portability/storage/book light aspects of my Paperwhite. I love that I can literally lug thousands of books around with me without worrying about the pages/covers getting ripped or bent. I love that I can read at night without bothering Anthony and running out of batteries for my booklight (since I never let my Kindle battery die). I love that I can switch between books at will or look up words I don’t know without having to bring an extra book and a dictionary with me. And I love the savings I’ve gotten by switching almost completely to Kindle.

Still, the Kindle doesn’t have the beautiful smell of leather and old pages (despite the beautiful burnt leather cover* I’ve put on it), it doesn’t have handwritten notes from years ago in the margins, it doesn’t have lovingly-dog-eared pages and a well-worn spine from countless hours of reading, and it doesn’t have the same sense of nostalgia that comes with a favorite book.

I don’t understand why there needs to be a never-ending debate about this subject. Both Kindles and books deliver a unique reading experience that has merit. I think books are the greatest inventions in human history (sorry Kindle, electricity kinda beats you into the second-place spot after books, followed by the wheel in 3rd…you’re in the top ten, okay?).

Books are amazing. Books are life. I love books. I’ve had literally thousands of them over the years. I love that I can pass on a book to a friend to breathe life into its existence again; much like people get excited about new books, I think books get excited about new people (note: it’s an abstract idea; I don’t actually believe books have a consciousness). That’s the amazing thing about books: they don’t just tell their story once and go off to die; they can tell their story over and over and over again, to multiple people who will each experience the book differently and, hopefully, talk about those experiences and invite others to join them.

That being said, in today’s tech-driven world, Kindles are a natural, necessary, and greatly appreciated progression from regular books. As much as it pains me to admit it, how many children do you know who would choose an iPhone over a book? Be honest. The fact that the Kindle can take something as amazing and beneficial as reading and turn it into something that appeals to today’s youth is invaluable. When Anthony first got an iPad, one of the things that appealed to me most was the idea of interactive “pop-up” books–instead of having the same old, three-dimensional, cardboard characters pop up out of the book, the iPad had virtual characters that could make noise, move across the page, dance, and more, just simply by touching them (shoutout to Loud Crow Interactive Inc and their PopOut! Squirrel Nutkin app). Can you imagine how blown your little four-year-old mind would be if you got to see that when you were a kid? It’s like Reading Rainbow a) on crack and b) without LeVar Burton (which would be a bad thing, because LB is an awesome guy).

When I was in kindergarten, I shocked the pants out of my teacher in my entrance interview by not only speaking in complete, cohesive sentences, but by telling them a story about how I got an apple down off the kitchen counter. The fact that most 4 years olds these days can’t do that breaks my heart. 

This is why I want to get my Masters in Library and Information Sciences. This is why I want to research the advent of digital media in our analog world and help make its influence even greater. This is why I want to get iPads, Kindles, and books into every classroom, every home, and every child’s hands. I want every parent to read to their kid. I want every kid to read to their parent.  I want reading to be considered an integral act of life, up there with breathing and eating. Instead of avid readers being considered dorky or nerdy, I want them to be like, “Yeah, I read, what can YOU do??

In conclusion: books are awesome. Kindles are awesome. We can all get along. Now go read a book (in whatever format you want).

*In case you were wondering, I got my awesome burnt leather Kindle cover from Oberon Design, who make many gorgeous things out of leather–check them out!

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