Call me whatever you will, I’m not afraid to tell you that I hate the Kindle, the Nook, and all other electronic devices on which one can download and read books. It’s not that I don’t like reading on them (I don’t) – I actually resent– even hate – them.
One of my favorite things to do with people – especially lovers, husbands, best friends, siblings, cousins, aunts, nieces and nephews – is to share books. For years, every time my husband bought a book, or I did, we shared the book. Sometimes, I found that I wasn’t really interested in what he was reading. But I picked it up, read the back, flipped through it, etc. And if I was especially enthusiastic about a book, I talked about it until he was bound to pick it up and at least browse through it if not actually read it. We had a common language born from the books we read and an easy way with each other’s reading lives.
When my nieces come over, the first thing they do is go t my bookshelves to see what’s new. They bring books with them, often books they think I should read. Trash, high literature, murder mysteries, whatever – these books became a bond, an easy way into long, deep conversations about our lives, and a common language – again. And often we have long held memories of books passed down over the generations. Grandmother, aunt, niece – all reading the same books. Remember when such-n-such character did so-n-so? is a frequent conversation opener. We argue about books while we’re really arguing about our lives and our values; we remember stories while really remembering good times together; we love the characters in novels and learn form them to change our own lives. The point is, though, that we do this together.
Now, my husband’s reading always looks the same. It is a small, flat, black object, sometimes with an antenna-like light attached to it. I ask, “What are you reading?” and he tells me. But I can’t pick up the book, can’t turn it over in my hands, can’t read the back. We can share these books – if I am willing to read them on my iPad – a thing I abhor. So books pile up on my side of the bed while his is unusually, depressingly neat. We have separate reading lives these days. He likes to carry his kindle around because it’s easier to manage in the subway than some fat tome. All his books are on that kindle. None are left for me to make friends with.
So I hate the Kindle, the Nook, and all such reading devices.