Thursday, February 1, 2018

2018 Notes to Myself: No. 1



For the last two or three years,
I've done Notes to Myself
in lieu of those all-too-meaningless
New Year Resolutions.

Ordinarily,
I post them one-a-day
during the month of January,
but I wanted to participate in 
Susannah Conway's Gentle January meme,
so this year I'm posting in February.

This is a prescription 
that I won't have any hesitation in following.

I am an unabashed bibliophile.
I love to read
and be enthralled by a captivating story.
Or, for that matter,
to learn something new,
to be exposed to divergent points of view,
and sometimes
to be awed -- not by words --
but by stunning photographs.

After I sold the house I'd shared with my spouse
(now the spouse of someone else)
and bought a much more modest home of my own,
I donated hundreds of books to the local library
for its annual book sale. 
I kept hundreds, perhaps over a thousand, more
and had to pack and move them.
I also had to buy bookshelves,
since all the custom bookcases of the old house
were suddenly unavailable.

That got me thinking about a Kindle.
It would be much easier to move
1000 books
stored on a Kindle or in the cloud
than ones that I hold in my hand,
I thought.
For the first time, I could find a justification
for abandoning hold-in-my-hand books

or so I thought.

I bought a Kindle
and began to order books of interest.

What I found
is that I'm perfectly content
reading a good novel or memoir on my device.
I love the ease of sticking it in my handbag
and carrying it with me 
so I can read while I wait for a friend
to join me for lunch,
or before a movie starts,
or in bed at night without a lamp.
They work fine at the beach
and are great on a long flight
because they take up almost no space
in a carry on bag
and you've always got new titles to open
if you finish a book 
and don't know how to survive
the next six hours
without something to read because
you can't imagine having to converse
with the unkempt guy in the next seat.

Non-fiction, however, is another thing altogether.
I've tried it and have stopped buying
virtual non-fiction.
Books about history or ideas or politics
or brain science
have to be held in my hands
and pages turned, one by one.
Otherwise, it's too hard to flip back
to re-read a passage that might disagree
with or undercut something I just read.
And I find it less burdensome to mark 
a dazzling quote or section I want to 
return too with a sticky tab
than to highlight it and try to find it again.

And, let's face it, 
a lot of content available on Kindle
is rubbish.
There's too much content you'd never buy
if you were in a brick and mortar bookstore
and could turn back the cover and
test read for a page or two.
And it's hard to tell from the description
and sometimes even reader-submitted "reviews"
because. . . well, for all kinds of reasons.

So I'm happy with my hybrid approach --
Kindle for fiction and reading convenience.
Books with heft and paper with good weight
and beautiful layout and type
and that lovely new book smell
for everything else.

No matter what format,
I certainly will follow my own advice
and indulge.



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