Those who have known me for very long know that I love to read (and I’m happy that our daughters seem to have inherited that trait from both of us). Lately, though, I’ve not been seen so often with a book in hand. Why? Part of it is simply logistics. Larger books are more cumbersome and hard to control, and with my tendency of “stacking” most everything, having a number of books simply adds to life’s clutter… which adds a possible tripping hazard for yours truly.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve balked at the mere idea of an ereader (an electronic reader) for quite some time. The exception here is my Bible, for after seeing a friend in Bible study use hers with such finesse, I decided to simplify things there. I would be able to use a small, handheld reader (a palm pilot at the time), and the palm-sized device could hold my notes, not to mention three versions of the Bible to help when I wished to find clarification. Nice.
Other books are less bulky than my favorite Bible, but they’re all such friends that the idea of replacing those with a techie toy just grated on my sensibilities. The Bible was difficult (emotionally, not technically), though I enjoyed the smaller size and the search capabilities… but for everyday reading?? I think not. I had heard about Amazon’s Kindle, about the “epaper” display, so there wouldn’t be glare or eye strain like reading from a computer screen. Unlike my palm pilot, the battery was supposed to last weeks without a new charge. …I still didn’t know, but then I got to interact with one a bit when my husband purchased one last October. I was pleasantly surprised when I held it and read from it for a while… and I decided that I was going to step over to the dark side. After saving birthday and Christmas funds, I did indeed purchase my own Kindle ereader. When people talk to me about this technology and ask for my thoughts, I’m thrilled to answer, as several things that come to mind. Here are a few:
1. I can carry over 100 books with me wherever I go, and they weigh less than the book I checked out from the library. With my own balance and mobility issues, this is particularly helpful.
2. Along those lines, when I’m in a doctor’s waiting room (like when a daughter breaks a bone and we sit for more than a half hour before going back), I can open a word puzzle game that we both play together.
3. Of the 100+ books on my device we’ve only had to pay for a few. The NIV Study Bible was one, and the other is a trilogy T.R. purchased about hobbits and a ring and a place called Middle Earth. You might have heard of it before. But where did the others come from? Well, anything published before 1924 is “public domain,” meaning the texts are available free of charge; many have been released in Kindle format, so they can be downloaded and read. (I downloaded 18 books for Rachel when she did a report about Louisa May Alcott. Our library is good, but they only had a few LMA-related volumes.)
4. Besides “public domain” items, Amazon has free Kindle items from time to time. My first two books to read were by two authors I enjoy, Randy Alcorn and Janette Oke. Another I just downloaded that I’m excited to read is a work by author/poet Wendall Berry… our town library doesn’t carry any of his, so I may even purchase a few of his books in the future… but this will get me started.
5. Here’s a reason that may seem unusual, but this technology been an unforeseen blessing. You see, I have an infusion once per month for my MS medication, Tysabri. I get to spend an hour with a needle in one arm, then an hour after that in the same room, making sure that there are no reactions to the meds. What does this have to do with reading? Well, during that hour+, it’s hard to read a book, as it’s tough to hold a book AND turn pages with only one hand available, as the other arm is elevated, and moving it can give the IV problems. But with the Kindle, one can read and turn pages by pressing a button on the left or right side. So you don’t need to worry about losing your page number, turning the page, or moving an arm that is to stay still. Hooray!
6. Due to the simplicity with which I can now have a book available to read, I am finding another unforeseen benefit: I read more. I really do plan to purchase some non-free volumes from Amazon in the near future, but even so, the simplicity and accessibility factors are helping reawaken the reader inside. (I suppose you could call that “rekindling.”)
I remember thinking – and perhaps saying – that I love books, but an ebook just wouldn’t be the same. Well, it may not be the same, but I’m finding that a little electronic reader can help enhance my reading experience in ways I hadn’t foreseen. My six points leave out a few of the advantages of an ebook, but this isn’t meant to be a term paper. Just a blog post: a blog post celebrating the fact that a small piece of technology could rekindle a love I’d almost forgotten I had.