Monday’s List: The Necessary Evil of E-Readers

What’s a Monday without a list? Stasha, over at The Good Life, understands the power of lists. Lists are my version of what Jeff Goldblum said about rationalizations, in “The Big Chill:” “Rationalizations are better than sex. Ever gone a day without a rationalization?”

I can go a day without a rationalization, but I’m not sure I can go a day without a list. We won’t talk about that third term in the equation.

Here’s Monday’s list, occasioned by the fact that I’ve been reading books on the iPad: an amazing memoir about Japan, Hiroshima, and marriage, called Hiroshima in the Morning, by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto; another crazy Scandinavian thriller, The Snowman, by Jo Nesbo (what is it about these close-to-the-North-Pole people that they come up with such wild plots? lack of sunlight? socialism?); Mary Poppins, to Caleb, our before-bed-chapter-book; and now, finally, the fifth (and I hope to god the last) Game of Thrones book, called Dance with Dragons.  I’ve been simultaneously enthralled and bored to tears by these books, but by this point I’ve invested so many damn pages that I have to finish the fifth one just to see what the hell happens to the hundreds of characters we’ve been following for four previous novels.

Here’s the thing: the ipad feels like a necessity, because we’re traveling for the next month and when we finally land, in a new apartment, in a new country, I won’t have a lending library to feed my almost book-a-week reading habit.  But I’m not a convert. Husband, of course, accuses me of being nostalgic, luddite, “so twentieth century.” To which this list is my response:

1. There is no glare problem with a book when you’re reading on the beach.

2. When you’re reading on the beach and the book gets damp, you get only some wrinkled pages, not fried electronica.

3. A book never says “a wi-fi connection cannot be established, please try again.”

4. I can lend a book to a friend, a relative, leave it on the train for the next passenger, donate it to a thrift shop.

5. It’s easy to flip back through the pages of a book to see if you’ve missed an important detail.

6. An e-reader will never acquire pages soft with time or the scent of whatever house has provided bookshelf space.

7. No flight attendant ever tells you to put a book away during take-off and landing

8. A book never runs out of charge at a particularly thrilling moment.

9. If you wonder why the hell you’re reading a book in the first damn place, it’s easy to flip to the blurbs on the back and figure out why you were suckered into reading it.

10. For someone (like me) who spends way the hell too much time in front of a computer, an e-reader feels more like work than an escape from work

Of course, this list becomes moot, unfortunately, when I consider the fact that A Dance With Dragons is more than 1000 pages long–in hardback–and lugging it around would wreck my back for the forseeable future.

On my ipad, that fifth book behemoth doesn’t weigh anything at all.

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9 Responses to Monday’s List: The Necessary Evil of E-Readers

  1. Stasha July 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    I so agree with your list. You know I am gadget mad. I downloaded Bossy pants the day I got my iPad. I really like the book and it is the easiest read ever. But I have not gone beyond first few chapters. Because I will just quickly check Twitter, Google reader and emails and two hours later I am no closer to reading a book. You cannot do that with a book. You sit down with intent to read and then you do. Period.
    There is something romantic about a book. No gadget will ever replace that. And there is the joy of going to the library and borrowing a bunch. Downloading them from iTunes doesn’t compare.
    Speaking of reading, I love your writing style. It is such pleasure to read.

  2. Kim July 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    I have a Kindle, and too many times I have kept it on reading and reading into the early morning hours because the book is just too good to put down, and then near the end the battery dies out 🙁 This is a great list!! It really made me think of the ways a book can’t be beat.

  3. Janice July 19, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    I confess I am an E-Reader junkie. I’ve got a Kindle, a Nook Color, and a Nook Touch. I’m still surrounded by “regular” books and pick ’em up to read here and there, but my go to reading material these days are via e-reader. There’s on in my purse (NT), one next to the bed (NC), and one that my husband uses (K). I say it’s cuz there are books that are cheaper as e-reader plus I get to carry as many as I want without bilking up my purse. I also like the instant gratification of being able to download the next book in the series.

    Sigh. Am I hopeless?

  4. mom2kiddos July 19, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    That’s so true about books. I don’t really read much except for children’s books now so I’ll never have this problem. But yeah lugging around an iPad would be easier than a 1000pages book.

  5. dusty earth mother July 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    I love your list and agree with it wholeheartedly. There is just something so un-book-like about reading on anything else. I love turning pages. I love seeing where I am and how far I have to go. I love to (sshhh, don’t tell the librarian) dogear the page. And I adore libraries.

    By the way, what country are you moving to?

  6. JDaniel4's Mom July 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm #

    I love turning back to reread pages.

  7. Dick Horwich July 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    I’m reading this on the beach with no trouble at all. And since it isn’t (yet) in book form, that’s about the only way I can read it. There’s a certain irony about blogging about the holiness of books, isn’t there? Sort of biting the hand that you’re feeding. Anyway, check your email; I sent you from the Times more learned commentry than I can offer.

    • Deborah Quinn July 24, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      @Dick Horwich: totally, the irony of berating e-readers in a blog. Someone should give me a book contract, and then I could put the blog in page form and RE-berate the digital reader.

  8. Bestfoodies July 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Loved your list. My daughter and I both have considered an E-reader but like you love your books. I do have Kindle on my Tablet and find it not so thrilling unless I find myself out without a book and glad to have it. We just like the natural feel of having a book, of seeing it laying there enticing you to stop and read for a moment. Great list!

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