Okay, before you tell me all the reasons why I’m nuts and how I can easily have access to a plethora of books at my finger tips and how it’s antiquated to carry around books, let me forewarn you that my mother did say I was special. I am that “special” kind of special who stresses about making the correct book selection before a holiday, who returns to old books like bad habits, knowing it will destroy me to pick it up but unable to do anything differently. I am that “special” kind of special who is a book lover and an old school one at that. And it is probably equal parts old school-ness and stubbornness that has lead me to the firm conclusion that I will never own a Kindle. Here’s why
1. Jean Louise, Atticus and Boo Radley
I feel like I need a disclaimer here, just seeing this book makes me feel like I want to pick it and hug it, that’s how strong my love for it is. So it is incredibly unlikely that anything that follows resembles an unbiased opinion.
When I was in high school, nothing frustrated me quite as much as having to read the “set book” for the year. We would always read some classic that bored me beyond belief and I would then have to spit out details and thoughts on books that I had absolutely no interest in. In the year of my 16th birthday, that changed. In that year, the book that I was required to read became not only my favourite book, but a book that I have returned to read almost every year since. If you didn’t get it from the title or the picture here (shame on you), that book is To Kill A Mocking Bird. And this is about to sound creepy but it was my sister’s then boyfriend who ignited this love affair within me.
Apart from the boyfriend being dramatically tall and unusually pale, I’ll always remember him for the book he lent me. Hearing me bemoan my fate at having being assigned to read To Kill A Mocking Bird, the said boyfriend grew unusually animated and seemed genuinely interested in having a conversation. He insisted that I read his copy of the book, even though I would get a brand-new copy from school. He said something about the joy of having read a book that someone else had previously loved and his enthusiasm was warm and contagious. On my bookshelf, with the spine weathered through multiple reads, sits a copy identical to the book that he lent me all those years ago. Having the replica means something to me, feeling the creases and wear of the book feels like touching the face of someone I love. Each marking a memory, a reminder and a promise. Reading this book on a Kindle would be an unwelcome distance, my love affair necessitates proximity and life is too short to be separated from the things that you love.
2. My books are an insight into who I am
My favourite part of my entire house is my bookshelf. Of course I have way too many books to fit in the impossibly small space so I routinely change the books that I see everyday. Some are firm favourites, stalwarts if you may, and some are more flavour of the month types. It is often a dangerous thing to ask a question about any book that you may encounter on my bookshelf as this may prompt an unsolicited three hour account on my views on that book and seven other books that have some mild association with it. The books I’ve read (and the books I haven’t) have shaped me and my thoughts and the idea of hiding them away somewhere deeply upsets me. I also love other people’s bookshelves, if you have a bookshelf or an an animal in your house, it’s almost always a guarantee that that’s where I’ll gravitate to. If you have both an animal and a bookshelf, then good luck getting rid of me (EVER).
3. I’m stupidly sentimental
Just in case you haven’t quite figured this out yet, I am stupidly sentimental. Yes, stupidly. I won this book when I was 6 as a “book prize” at the end of a school year and 27 years later, I’m still hanging on to it. There’s terribly embarrassing answers to some of the questions scribbled in childish script, some of the characters were also given makeovers with the use of a red pen and impossibly crooked lines and this is not exactly my favourite book in the world. But somehow, the nostalgia of being able to walk to my bookshelf and pull this out and laugh at myself is inexplicably joyful. Also I’m pretty sure this isn’t available on Kindle.
4. I have a post-it habit
Okay, this is a bit of an ugly addiction and I’ve finally decided to come clean. I do have a Post-it problem, especially when to it comes to non fiction books. And If I’m re-reading something I’ve often been known to re-post-it as well. Trust me, I’m not proud of it, I’ve tried to fight it and all I’ve ended up doing is hating myself for not having a Post-it on hand. I know I can bookmark electronic files, but face it this way I get to look like I actually took the book seriously (Professor Cox would be impressed!).
5. A kindle won’t remind me of the times when a book has found me
I remember walking though Stone Town and having an overwhelming desire to buy a book, not just any book but a book that would always remind me of the hot, sticky summer holiday we had in Zanzibar. Of course, I ended up getting a Swahili/English/Italian phrase book and all it seems to remind of are European men in ridiculously small speedos so my story isn’t half as romantic as I would want it to be. But then there’s The Alchemist, the first book I bought after being enthralled by the Northern Lights, as if the Green Lady herself had compelled me to find my purpose. It sounds silly, but I am well schooled in the art of silly.