The Pleasure of a Paperback Novel

It may be easy to guess that I read most of my books on a kindle. Frankly, if you had asked me when kindles first came out if that would ever be the case, I would have told you no. For better or worse, I tend to have strong opinions and in my mind nothing could replace the feel of reading a novel, turning a page, flipping to the end or the beginning, or looking at them stacked up in a pile near my bed. But, after receiving one as a gift, I slowly began to use it more and more. First it started with the free books that are largely a part of the cannon we know as “classic literature.” I was able to read books I’d always been meaning to read, but never got around to it—hello Sherlock Holmes! Then I had my first child and I was pushed further into the world of ebooks.

After my first child was born I found that it became much easier to read a kindle than an actual book. Being able to turn the page and hold the book with one hand became really important. I spent a lot of time breastfeeding and books were really what go me through those long periods of isolation. Then, when my child was four months old, I began my graduate program. I found it much easier to read some of the novels and articles on my kindle, rather than lugging ten books around. Staying up late to read became doable because I didn’t need to keep the light on and keep my baby awake. I also didn’t have to worry about pages being ripped out or chewed on. Sure there were some things I didn’t like about it, taking notes was so much more cumbersome to me, but overall it made a lot of sense for me as I took classes and stayed home with my baby.

Now that I have two children, my kindle is even more important. I use the paperwhite for its built in light and its lightweight compact size. I have over a thousand books stored in the cloud and enjoy accessing them anytime I want. I am never without a book as long as I have my kindle with me.

Yet, kindle books are not as cheap as I’d like. I’ve already posted about Amazon Unlimited and using the library ebooks, but even with these two resources I miss a lot of wonderful books and authors. I grew up going to used book stores—it was one of the ways my family could afford to feed my reading habit, one that I shared with my father—and I am lucky enough that I live six blocks away from one now. So recently, when I visited the used bookstore, I was surprised to find that many of my favorite authors could be found there for cheaper than an ebook. Yes, CHEAPER! I don’t know if you’ve noticed this too, but some of the older books that are re-released as kindle books are kind of expensive. Almost more than buying them brand new. And there is something in me that just rebels at the idea of paying more for an ebook than for a physical book. I am all for modern amenities, but I hate paying more for an electronic item when I can get the same thing and actually hold it in my hands. So I bought a few books that I knew I hadn’t read yet and walked home excited.

Now that my children are older and no longer sleep in the same room as me, I can stay up late reading my paperback romance novels, once again enjoying the crinkle of the paper between my fingers, feeling the weight of the book, eyeballing the progress I’ve made, knowing that I am doing something especially for me. Reading is my escape, my pleasure, my relaxation, and reading a paperback novel has come to represent a decadence I wouldn’t have guessed I’d feel. The switch from paperback to kindle and back again has given me a new appreciation for books in their physical form. I’ve always loved them, I collect autographed books and still have large bookshelves lining my room, but now I appreciate them for what they always should have been—a luxury item just for my pleasure.

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