I am a book snob. This is no surprise to anyone who has ever met me.
Now, I am not a snob in the types of books that I read, necessarily (she types, glancing over at her still-preserved *Twilight* shelf…). But I am the type of book snob that has posted/shared this meme on well over a dozen occasions:
And this one too:
(The second one I particularly find hilarious).
So what was it in December of 2015 that compelled me to place an order for a Kindle Paperwhite? Well, to be honest, it was a lot of things, but there were two in particular:
- #1 – I needed a way to fall asleep without the TV on.
- #2 – One of my fellow book clubbers spoke SO highly of it.
The TV one was a big thing. I am a terrible sleeper. And one of the reasons I am a terrible sleeper is because I am a screen-user right before bed. Not just right before bed. In bed. Falling asleep to the blue light of a TV or my phone or something. It’s terrible for you, I know, but it’s something I’ve done since I was a small child, and it is a HARD habit to break.
Now, many people suggested I just read eBooks on my iPad or get a Kindle Fire which is another tablet, but that doesn’t solve the blue-light-screen problem. The Kindle Paperwhite, however, has a different type of screen/back-light which has been shown to not be as disruptive. Plus, reading quietly in bed is less disruptive to OTHER people who may be trying to sleep while I’m normally watching TV… (without trying to balance a book light and also not shining said book light into my husband’s face while he tried to sleep!).
There are a number of benefits to a Kindle (or other eReader) that aren’t true of normal books. For example:
- You can highlight and take notes digitally, so you’re not marking up a physical book.
- No one can see what you’re reading, so if you wanted to read 50 Shades of Grey while in public, you can without anyone knowing that’s what you’re reading.
- Some libraries (mine included!) have a larger eBook catalog than they do a physical book catalog, which means more options and easier accessibility.
- Kindle books are cheaper than physical books, which is especially nice if you have little to no intention of hanging on to the book once you’re done reading it.
- They are highly portable and can store a LOT of books. I think my back/shoulders will begin to appreciate me traveling with this instead of 16 different 300+ page volumes (some in hard cover…)
Now, granted, there are some drawbacks that I’ve found as well. For one, I just don’t love holding my Kindle the way I love holding a real book. There’s something intoxicating about the feel of a cover and turning through printed pages that you just can never have with digital. The impact of the tactile experience while reading is a very real thing. Plus, well, the shelf thing (look at the first meme I shared). I love being surrounded by books. When I visit someone’s home for the first time, the first thing I look for is whether or not they have bookcases on display, and what is on those bookcases. I think you can learn so much about a person by the library they possess, but you can’t see that if it’s all trapped inside a Kindle. I also like to read books that tend to be very sad, and I get emotional when I read, and I don’t get the same feeling weeping and hugging my Kindle to me as I do with other books. Call me crazy, I don’t care – it’s a real thing.
But the Kindle did serve me very well for our first book club meeting of 2016. Our book for the month was The Hours by Michael Cunningham. You’ve probably heard of this book, if only because of this:
I actually still haven’t seen this now fourteen-year-old movie, but I remember hearing good things about it. Now that I’ve read the book, I really want to see it.
I read The Hours on my Kindle, which proved fruitful to book club because – as I mentioned earlier – you can highlight/take notes while you’re reading and then refer to just your highlight/notes list rather than trying to flip through the book (if you’re not the type to write in margins or tab quotes, which I actually usually am, but it’s not for everyone).
Overall, I liked the book. It was sad, yes, but as we came to discuss in our book club meeting, it was also oddly optimistic (which is hard to say for a book whose main topic is death, particularly suicide). There was a beauty to the madness of these three women, which I attribute strongly to Cunningham’s writing style. It can be painful to read because it is such an intimate portrayal of depression, but it’s also quite profound in the way it unpacks the disease.
The unfortunate thing about this book, which has been true of almost all the books we’ve read as part of book club, is…that’s about all I have to say. The paragraph above. Why? I mean, it’s a solid book and was a good read, but there’s nothing about it that stayed with me. I don’t dream about these characters like I do the characters in other books. I don’t find quotes from it wafting through my thoughts. In fact, if I weren’t sitting here writing a blog post about the book, I’d probably have already forgotten that I even read the damn thing.
Most books aren’t like that for me. So…is it a “book club” thing? Has book club become the new “required reading” – something we complete out of obligation and not for pleasure (though, to be fair, The Great Gatsby was required reading and that’s my favorite book of all time…)? Or do Pulitzer Prize winners, though technically impressive, just sort of suck at leaving a lasting impression? (I can’t imagine it’s that either, because To Kill a Mockingbird won a Pulitzer, but…).