A strange relationship to books

by michelle on July 9, 2012 · 4 comments

In the Summer of 1995, I bought Dragons of Summer Flame , a huge tome of a hardback, dragged it up to the little treehouse my father had built for us in the massive magnolia tree in our front yard, and read.

I read every moment I could steal away until I had almost finished that book. Because I knew when that book was over, the characters that I’d come to know and love would be dead, and their stories will have finished. Two chapters from the end, I remember sitting up in that tree house and being overcome with emotion at the prospect of the end. It wasn’t just the deaths of the characters that I was mourning, it was mourning being finished with this book. I’m sure if I went back and read it now, I wouldn’t feel nearly as emotional. I’m pretty sure the writing isn’t all that great and the story isn’t all that good after all. But when I was younger, the Dragonlance books fed my soul in a way that nothing had before.

I held that giant red-canvas covered hardback in my hands, remembering it’s weight in my lap, and resolved myself to the inevitable end. I finished the last few chapters, and then took a few moments to let the emotions settle in. I still read Dragonlance books from time to time. I re-read the Chronicles trilogy and the Legends trilogy periodically.

The vivid memories of holding books and the emotions I felt while reading them are very strong. I can see myself as I read certain books for the first time, and the feel of the paper in my hands is a large part of the memory.

I’ve decided that while I do love the ease of having e-readers, I am just not an e-reader person. I’ve read a LOT of books over the last 2 years on my nook and on the apps on my phone, but after I finish a book that I loved, I wish I’d been holding a bound wad of paper in my hands. And then I feel the need to go buy the physical copy of the book, and so I’ve saved myself nothing in using an e-reader.

I understand that not all people have such a ridiculous attachment to books, but I just can’t let go of the physical part of the experience. Holding the book, the smell of old pages, seeing a fingerprint smudge on a page and wondering which time in the past did you leave that there. All of these things are strangely important to me, and thought I’ve tried very hard to move to reading on devices to save money and paper, I just can’t.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Zoot July 10, 2012 at 6:38 am

My husband bought me a Kindle for a gift 2 years ago and I was so mad b/c I had said 100 million times, “I would miss books too much to read an e-reader.” He claimed he didn’t ever remember me saying that and then he laid a HUGE guilt trip on me for being so snotty about a gift. And I kinda saw his point, but I was also still pissed he wasted money on something I never wanted.

So, to smooth things over I bought a book or two on the Kindle. I started with a series book and when the book ended on a cliffhanger I was all, “WHAT? NO!” Then it occurred to me that at 2am I could buy/download the next book…IMMEDIATELY. And I did. And since then I’ve been hooked. 🙂

The funny thing is I’m still very much attached to having my favorite books on a shelf. So, if I really like a book? I end up buying the paper version too. Which I know is SOOO stupid!

Are you on Goodreads? I’d love to see your reviews/recommendations if you are!

Ginger July 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I’m firmly in the middle of the two camps. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Nook for quickie reads that I don’t have any hope of reading again. I used to keep ALL my books (some long lost relic of an idea of a library in my home one day with every book I’ve ever read. The logistics of that make me laugh now), but after moving more than 30 boxes of books back and forth across the country, I finally moved to just keeping my FAVORITE books.

And that’s where the real books come in. I want physical copies of my favs, the ones I think I’ll reread. Those I want the physical feeling of the book in my hand.

Aubs July 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm

It’s like you have insight into my brain.

I will never do the e-book thing. I love the sensation of the pages between my fingers, the smell of the binding, and the well-work look of my favorite books…. even cookbooks.

And I was that kid. I rode my bike to the library several times a week in the summer, and participated in all of the “Summer Reading” contests. We had a hammock in our back yard, and I’d lay in the hammock, voraciously tearing through books, from the time I came home from the library until it was too dark to read.

Reading is my first love. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

courtney July 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

I love “real” books so much — and hoard them like nobody’s business. I like the convenience of the Nook, and I love audiobooks for long car trips and time at the gym, but nothing beats the real thing. And I definitely relate to the tangible memories part of what you’re saying here — the smell of old pages, the feel of the hardcover in your fingers… (side note: I HATE dustjackets and always take them off before reading. You?)

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