I love a good book. Who doesn’t? I have a constantly growing list of books I want to read. I have an online list at the library so I can get notified when the book becomes available. I have friends who write and share their books with me. Oversized bound manuscripts waiting for someone to devour each page. Being enticed by the thousands of words affixed to paper. Sometimes, though, words on paper are just too much.
Over the past few years I’ve ordered quite a few audio books for CycleGuy because he listens to them when he rides his bike. There are so many terrific marketing and social psychology books that he just doesn’t have time to read them all. When he travels he might download a few to the iPad but he now actually prefers the audiobooks.
My first audiobook was The Historian. I hated reading the book but didn’t want to be the only one in the book club who didn’t finish the book so I got the audio book. As Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather from Men on Film (get the In Living Color reference?) would say, BORING! If there were a better word besides suckitude to explain that book, I’ve yet to find it. And not only did it drag on, when I listened to it on audio book the voices totally creeped me out. It really had an impact on my relationship with audio books.
Now BabyGirl is reading books like they are the key to her survival. In the past 6 months she’s read over 150 books. And I’m not talking 10 pagers here. She reads chapter books like Beacon Street Girls, Little House on the Prairie series, Lemony Snickett, Roald Dahl and many other classics. She reads constantly. It’s normal to see her with a book at the table for breakfast and lunch. We’ve had to ban books from the bathroom or she will take 25 minutes to brush her teeth. She’s ruined books because she wants to read when she’s in the tub. And let’s not talk about the bookmobile that I call my car. At one point there were 15 books in the cars! I drive a Mini Cooper! It’s not like she’s in the Partridge Family bus.
Recently, though, as we’ve traveled she’s started to read from the iPad. It makes it easy to bring along a ton of books. And she loves sitting and holding it on her lap. I watch as she flips the page with a single stroke of her finger. The ease of swiping her finger from right to left. Of the page turning without much effort. The words always at the ready.
I’m old school. I want to feel that book in my hand. But slowly I’m getting use to the warm iPad and the glow. Something’s missing though. For the most part it does help to keep the creepy people away when traveling. No more freaky seat mate striking up conversation or spoiling the plot line. Why? Because they don’t know what you’re reading. Ha! Take that Nosey McNoserson!
Then again, there’s no opportunity to get that other perspective. You have to openly seek out someone. No more does someone catch a glance at the title and start up a conversation. Our eyes maintain focus on this device. Our fingers no long feel the smooth texture of a book or the deckled edge of a hardback book made to seem more one-off than mass produced.
Sure I don’t have to constantly remind BabyGirl how to turn the page so it doesn’t tear. But with each tiny tear of the page there is a reminder that she read the book. With each dog ear’d page I know I’m getting closer to the end. Even just as a reminder on the table, the book speaks. No longer do we see the home library filling a room with shelf upon shelf of books. It’s as if books do not exist.
We can’t peruse our friend’s bookshelves and learn more about them or find something that further connects us. It’s not the same to house thousands of books on an eReader. It becomes a secret life. It’s as if books don’t exist. And that makes me sad.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad and reading books on it so I don’t have to haul them around. But something is now missing from our culture. For such an advancement in technology, I wonder what history will say about us since what we’ll leave behing may eventually end up being a worthless hunk of technology with our personal histories forever locked within them.
How do you think our history will be told if all our books are on these flat things no one can access?