Rejecting the Kindle: Why I Still Need Real Books

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Having been both an avid reader and a fan of technology most of my life, it would seem that jumping on the e-reader bandwagon would be a no-brainer for me. I’ve worked in technology for more than 20 years and have embraced it all the way. Between all of us, my family owns five Mac laptops, four iPhones, a desktop Mac, an iPad and a PC (only because I have to for work). We all use a variety of social media and applications including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In other words, there is no technology resistance around these parts.And yet, I just can’t seem to bring myself to make the jump to e-readers.

I figured that owning the iPad would bridge that gap. I wouldn’t have to switch to purchase a reading-specific device like the Kindle; with the iPad, I could use all of my familiar applications and start making the transition to downloading and reading books on that beautiful device. I’ve tried it exactly twice and while I did manage to finish the two books I downloaded, the experience left me…well, cold.

There’s something about the feel of a book, the smell of the paper – whether it’s bookstore-new or an old classic that has been handed down and sitting on a shelf for years. The weight of a the hard cover, the examination of the artwork, the reading of the inside flaps and back-of-book blurbs. Even paperbacks have a charm totally lacking from the sterile screen of its e-reader cousins.

I can’t quite give up the thrill of browsing a bookstore and picking up each title, trying to decide which one to read.  I still love having my own library of books at home, browsing the shelves that hold both new and old. My worn copy of  Gone with the Wind, spine still intact, but pages yellowing, brings back memories of learning to love books at the ripe age of 10. My collection of used paperback classics with their highlighted passages and folded corners recall hours spent in Royce Hall classrooms and Powell library, dissecting characters, motivations and themes. Each spine on the shelf  represents not just the story contained within, but a story that is uniquely mine.  I can’t quite get that same feeling from a collection of electronic files residing on a mobile device.

I know, I know…the Kindle and its ilk are the future. It’s great for traveling, you can pop it conveniently into your purse or bag and take it anywhere. If someone gives you a great tip on a new book, there’s no ordering from Amazon or driving to the Barnes & Noble or heading to the library to see if it’s available – in just a few clicks, it’s all yours. Immediate gratification.

I guess in this world of fast-paced, 24×7, mobile and always-on living, it seems silly or quaint to want to curl up on the couch with an old-fashioned book. And I’m sure eventually, the e-reader will win me over. For now, I have a stack of books to turn to, each one ready to tell me a story. So call me old-fashioned. Or call me Ishmael. I’m just going to keep turning real pages for now.

Where did my summer go?

Last time I looked, it was July 4th. Summer was in full swing. The Hollywood Bowl, lazy nights in the backyard barbecuing and sipping wine, a trip to Tucson to bake in the sun, poolside and move our college girl into her new place, her return home for a couple of wonderful weeks, visits from family.

But now the house has cleared out. It’s still ridiculously hot outside, but the atmosphere has changed. Daughter #1 is back to college. Daughter #2 is trying to finish up an essay due on Wednesday, her first day of high school, and pack as much into the remaining days of summer as she can. While work never really slowed down this summer for me or my hubby, we’re suddenly setting the alarm a little earlier, checking things off the to-do list, planning ahead for the Fall.  Yesterday, driving down the freeway, I saw a Halloween store – yes, that’s right. If you weren’t already bemoaning the start of school, just a little reminder that the end of October is nearly here!

While I have yet to hit the beach this summer (maybe this weekend?!), I realize I did manage to pack in all of the important things this summer. Being with family. Extended dinner conversations. More contemplation and relaxation. Reading. Soaking in the sights and sounds that mean summer in Los Angeles. And, of course, watching those amazing human specimens compete in London. I got to do a few things that qualify as truly spectacular including watching my older daughter swim at the Olympic Trials in Omaha (and watching my younger daughter take photos with every swim star she could find!).

There are always more things I could have, should have done during our summer. But it’s also good to turn the page knowing I’ve enjoyed the moments we had. So I’m looking forward, embracing the coming fall, gearing up for the return of cooler days, shorter nights, books strewn across the kitchen table, and yes, even, Halloween (though please don’t mention Thanksgiving yet. Please.). And I do look forward to getting back to the writing, resuming this blog that I’ve left dormant for far too long.

That said, it’s Saturday and it’s still summer. I’m off to soak up some sunshine. How about you?