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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Kindling desire

As a proud Kindle owner for over a year now, I'll admit it's a full twelve months since I've picked up a paper copy of a book.

"Oh," but I hear you say, "I like having a physical book."  I thought I would too, until I realised I can read the Kindle one-handed, hanging off a rail on the tube.  "Oh," you might continue, "but I like to keep all my books.  I have them arranged in alphabetical / chronological / colour of the cover* order."

Well bully for you.  You either have a much bigger house than I do, or you're a much slower reader.  With two hours spent per day on London's Sewage System (London Underground), I average 2.5 novels per week.  If I kept every book I'd read, I'd need to live in an aircraft hanger.  I did consider this for a while, but I'm always cold, so it turned out the energy bills would probably be prohibitive.

"I like to lend my books to people when I've read them," you might finish with,as your final Kindle argument.  And you've got me there, because that is the one down-side of a Kindle.  You can't zip your book across to someone when you've finished it.  Nor can you take it to the charity shop or sell it on eBay.  But for me, at least, these are minor niggles in the overall awesomeness of the Kindle.

As TheBloke (TM) has a Kindle too, we're going to clear out our bookshelf soon and be honest with ourselves about which paperbacks we're actually going to read again in non-digital form.  I suspect most of them may go bye-byes.  Even those books we love, and we may read again one day (in which I include in my favourites: The God of Small Things, Lolita, Rebecca, and in which no doubt TheBloke (TM) will include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy plus anything with tits, dragons or lesbians), honestly, I don't need it to be the exact same copy I was holding in my hands in 1998, 2002 or 2005 respectively.

Honestly, as a grown-up, I very, very rarely re-read anything anyway.  Which is odd, because as a child, I think I re-read old favourites more than I read new books.  I remember reading Enid Blyton's Malory Towers series literally dozens of times.  Not to mention her Naughtiest Girl series (lovingly collected from various jumble sales, several pages missing with "10p" invariably written in pencil on the inside cover).  Even as a teenager, Judy Blume books would be read and re-read (I never said I was precocious in my literary tastes!).

As an adult - I have probably only re-read maybe six or seven books.  The three already mentioned, probably Pride and Prejudice, and then a handful of stuff that my book club wanted to read and I'd already read - but not recently enough for me to be able to recall it with enough clarity for book club.  Hence the fact I had to read sodding Wuthering Heights twice.  I'm still angry about that.

My parents' house was always stuffed to the rafters (literally) with books.  I'm wondering - despite being an incessant reader, will one day our house be entirely bereft of physical, paper books?  Does it matter?  Will books - ironically - become kindling?

Anyway, from re-reading, back to re-watching; the 1990s Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice.  Nostalgia at its best.

*I know someone who does this.  Everybody wave to Nice Kate.


Shooz said...

One day you will inherit all your parents' books and you'll have to get that aircraft hangar after all.

Sara said...

I have a Nook (which is the Barnes & Noble - American bookstore e-reader). I can share books with other Nook owners - that solves one of the complaints you listed! :)

Nice Kate said...

*waves back*

GeeDub said...

Off course you can share them - as long as the 'sharee' also has a kindle. (You aren't actually buying the original books from Amzon are you!? That would be like buying a music CD from HMV ;-)

Anonymous said...

I also love my kindle-but it is very hard to give 'real books' away if they are attached to memories.
jus t getting around to saying that yes-one day you will need an aircraft hanger. Or a bonfire.

Jack said...

The only books I buy (and have ever bought) have been glossy art books. They are the only things you ever get down off the shelf to look at and they're good to give to guests while you're stirring the gruel. I do still have my/your old norton anthology somewhere though, would love to warm my hands on that tome of toilet paper some day...

Laura said...

If anyone EVER hands me a poncey art book whilst I'm at their house, I will immediately shout, "Poser! Poser!" and start Tweeting about it straight away.

Just a heads up.

L x