I love books. I love everything about books. I love the sound of the spine cracking when I open a brand new hardcover. I love dogeared pages on well-loved paperbacks. I love the way that libraries smell. I love jam-packed bookshelves and the fact that every title tells a story in addition to the one between its covers. Thrift store book racks were one of my favorite things on earth. For these reasons, among others, I was very, very resistant to the idea of the Kindle.
I hesitated at first to even call it a book. “E-reader” made it sound very juvenile and “Kindle” felt like thumbtacks in my mouth. I danced around the word, and the larger issue, like it was a sparring partner. I was prepared to fight for my beloved books, to the death, if it was necessary.
Two and a half years ago I began my life on the road. I packed one large suitcase and left Hawaii for Taiwan to meet my, then, boyfriend. Following behind on the cargo ship were two boxes full of books. I had no idea just how long we would be in Asia, and I couldn’t fathom life there without my books.
While I waited for the slower-than-molasses ship to deliver my things, I read the few books I had carried in my backpack. I picked up a few other titles at various airport bookshops as we began our travels in Asia. However, being the voracious reader that I am, those new books were gobbled up in a matter of days.
So it was, with great reluctance, that I commandeered my boyfriend’s Kindle. When my boxes arrived, I generously passed off my stack of paperbacks to him and picked up that strange contraption. My mind went blank as I struggled to come up with a title, any title, with which to begin my foray into the world of electronic reading. I felt just like I did when I went to libraries in the past, dumbstruck by the sheer volume of things to read.
Once I began, things went downhill fast. I quickly amassed a collection of titles that rivaled the bookshelves of my past. My boyfriend, realizing that his Kindle was now my Kindle, placed an order for another one. We then began sharing titles, in much the same way that I had passed beloved paperbacks to friends with the hope they would love the book as much as I did.
One year after we moved to Taiwan, it was time to move on. I had about two weeks to prepare to leave for South America, and it was imperative that I pare down my possessions, namely my books. I stacked them into beer boxes and marked them for the local flea market. I expected to feel more sorrow than I did. In reality, it felt good to cast off the weight, knowing that my chosen life of travel and adventure would be that much lighter.
As of today, I have not opened a paper book in almost two years. I love the fact that I can fit over 150 titles in the front pocket of my daypack. I also love that Amazon emails me with titles that I absolutely must have.
And I love that I can now say the word Kindle without feeling like my tongue will bleed. I am converted.