I have loved reading since I was a little girl. My mom used to take me to the Philadelphia public library, where I would check out at least 10 books, promptly read them and then beg my mother to take me back two days later. I can still see the turnstile that was just above eye level, and when I close my eyes, I can smell that library—the words, the history, the possibilities.
Buying books as an adult has become a luxury.
Ever the frugalista, I frequent used book sales to buy books I have already read, giddy with the excitement of giving them to friends whom I know will love the book as much as I do.
To me, sharing characters with a friend is pure joy.
Recently, I was with a friend who was RAVING about the book she was reading—the story, the character development and on and on.
“Wow, that sounds great,” I responded. “Can I have it when you are done?”
“Sure … oh no, wait; I’m reading it on my Kindle.”
“Oh,” I choke out, feeling like I wasn’t invited to the party.
“It’s okay. I have some others on my nightstand. Actually, I didn’t like any of them nearly as much as I am enjoying this one.”
I walked away, feeling a bit saddened. No big deal. I have other friends and many more books to read. My friendship portfolio needed some purging anyway.
Fast forward to the next day.
I am enjoying a lovely lunch with my friend, who is gushing about the book she is currently reading.
“Oh my god, this might be better than Snow Falling on Cedars (in my top five), maybe even better than To Kill a Mockingbird (yep, also top five). I can’t wait to give it to you. Oh wait, I’m reading it on my iPad.”
“I don’t get it. What’s so great about reading on your iPad?” I ask.
She looks at me like I just fell off my dinosaur. “I don’t have to carry books with me anymore. I can get whatever I want and only carry one gadget. It’s amazing.”
“What about the lighting?” I challenge her.
“It has a backlight,” she replies.
“The font size?” I inquire.
“No problem, you can change it,” she rifles back.
“What if you need to flip back or want to dog ear a page?” I ask, thinking I have stumped her.
“You can electronically label it.”
These are not relationship-building answers. I feel myself getting angry; she obviously doesn’t notice.
“Want to know the BEST part?” she asks.
I can’t help myself.
“Is it the part when you are walking by everyone on the airplane, wondering what you will read next and seeing only Kindles and iPads instead of book jackets to inspire your next purchase? Or, is it the part when you have only brought your iPad and the flight attendant announces “please switch into airplane mode for take off” so you are left reading Skymall if you haven’t downloaded your book? Or, is it the part when you realize you have lost all of your friends because you can’t share your books anymore?”
My tirade forces her to retreat 10 feet and give me the look the friend always gives the other friend who is turning into a werewolf every night in that Lifetime movie.
But, she doesn’t give up.
“Really, Steph, you should try it—you even HAVE an iPad. Just try it one time,” she says, pushing the iPad toward me (flashback to a college fraternity party and being asked to just try something one time—I shudder).
Truth is, I don’t want to try it. I want to feel it, smell it, carry it, and expose its cover to the world.
You want the truth? I would probably like it. But clearly, like Jack Nicholson told Tom Cruise in the famous courtroom scene from A Few Good Men, I can’t handle the truth.