As a voracious devourer of books, I’m constantly being asked why I don’t get a Kindle. The idea of having my entire library with me in a device that’s the size of a clutch is both appealing (for obvious reasons) and terrifying (what if I lose it? I lose everything! Sure, there’s electronic back-ups, but what will I be reading off of until I get a new one?, etc). Also, I love the feel and the smell of books. I will complain about it, but I love it when huge novels take up the bulk of the space in my purse. I love turning pages, even when paperbacks are made of that weird, rough paper that leave my fingers feeling dry. I love that brief moment of panic that takes place when I accidentally drop my book in the middle of a particularly engrossing scene, and the frantic page turning that follows to get back to where I was. I could keep gushing, but in case you aren’t completely convinced, here’s a list of some uses for a good paperback or hardback novel that a Kindle or ipad probably can’t do:
1. Finding a mate
You look across the coffee shop to see that cute girl/guy reading your favorite novel. In truth, you’re more excited about seeing someone else reading your book than the actual person reading it (I mean, after all, you don’t know them…yet).
“Excuse me,” you might say, “I hate to tear anyone away from reading [book title], but that’s my favorite novel and I just have to ask, who’s your favorite character so far?” Or possibly something more suave. Anyways, you’ll find out that’s their favorite book, too, and sparks will fly, and before you know it, you’re sending out invitations for your favorite-novel-themed wedding. Regardless, what caught your attention in the first place was the novel, not the person. If they had just been another person reading a Kindle, would you have approached them? In all likelihood, your eyes would have glossed over his/her face, briefly wondered what they were reading, and you’d have gone about your business, never realizing that loaded in his/her Kindle was the book.
2. Making friends
So you don’t like the guy/girl from the coffee shop that way, but you still become friends and you lend each other books from time to time. What’s glorious about lending out a physical novel is that there’s no time limit except for what you set. Hence, there’s no need for your friend to marathon read that 800 page novel in 14 days before the loan expires. I mean sure, you might miss your copy of The Name of the Wind or War and Peace when your friend keeps it for a year, but at least you know they’ll be able to thoroughly read it so you guys can talk about it afterwards.
3. Judging people
Is that strict, Professor McGonagall-like teacher reading Twilight in class? Does your motorcycle-riding, tough-person friend have an entire shelf dedicated to Regency era bodice rippers? When you go over to someone’s place for the first time, you can surreptitiously glance at their bookshelf and get an idea of their taste in books. Maybe it’ll tell you more about a person, or maybe it won’t. Regardless, it’s something else you can find out about someone you’re only just starting to get to know. You can’t do that if their entire library is hidden away in a Kindle (or, I guess you can ask for their Kindle and browse through it, but c’mon, that’s so obvious!).
4. Impromptu blocks
Is the table too low for your laptop? No problem, let me just stack a few books to create an elevated surface! That one yoga move that involves using blocks? I have two or three novels that are about that size! Need to hold the door open? Let me just push that book over real fast…and done!
5. Pressing flowers
If you don’t have a flower press or you don’t want to make one, books make awesome flower presses! It’s always a plus when I’m re-reading something I haven’t touched in a while, and a gorgeous pressed flower that I completely forgot about falls out.
6. Completing a costume
Oh hey! So you’re a…schoolgirl for Halloween? Or a random Hogwarts student? Oh you’re Hermione? Where are your books? Hermione always walks around carrying a book! Oh you have your Kindle with you? I’m not sure it works like that, my friend. Let me passive-aggressively express this by giving you less candy, or if you’re older, filling your cup of booze only half full.
7. A weapon
“Did you get another book? [exasperated sigh] Why don’t you just get a Kindle?”
“All the better to beat you with!”
Let’s say, for whatever reason, you need to defend yourself with a book. If it’s a thick book, it’ll pack a bit of a punch. Plus, a thick book might even take a knife wound for you. I can’t really see a Kindle doing the same.
8. Impromptu toilet paper
Or material to start a fire with, if you’re shipwrecked or end up stranded in the woods somewhere. I’m talking about those blank pages and the table of contents, of course. Then, you can read your novel until you’re rescued without worrying about things like battery life.
9. Bug killer
Throw a book across the room to take out that spider on the wall? Can’t do that with a Kindle! And now off to re-read Jane Eyre…
10. Making friends with authors
Nothing pleases an author more than seeing a copy of their book that bears the signs of having been read too many times. You know, when the spine has all those lines from the many re-reads, and the cover might be shredded around the edges or taped back on after it couldn’t survive the years of wear and tear. I’ll never forget the moment when Garth Nix picked up my copy of Lirael and fondly exclaimed over all the folds in the spine. Besides, “Please sign my Kindle” just sounds wrong.