I’m embarrassed to publicly admit this, but I think it needs to be said: I prefer reading digital books (specifically on my phone) over real books.
Why does it feel dirty to openly say that? It’s like admitting I prefer to shop at Walmart over a farmer’s market. Or I like Velveeta cheese over any other cheese that isn’t disturbingly orange. Bibliophiles who are reading this are probably muttering curses at me under their breath.
Or maybe I’m making ant hills over mole holes. (I’m actually terrible with idioms and truly don’t know what the correct saying is. Yes, I could look it up or ask Jerud, but just this once I’m not going to.)
I didn’t learn about digital books until we moved into the Toaster. True, Kindle had already been out for almost 8 years, but I was able to ignore it and any other e-readers’ existence pretty much that entire time. Which is fine because I really enjoyed going to my public library – for free.
The first couple of months on the road I struggled with whether I should buy a Kindle. I wanted to be able to read novels, but wasn’t willing to spend the money on an e-reader and purchasing books.
But then my girlfriend, Bri, set me straight. She kindly told me that Kindle wasn’t just a separate e-reader device, but it was also an app that I could get on my phone – for free. That was exciting, but I complained that I didn’t want to spend money on books to read. She was sweet enough to offer to share her books with me, but also told me that I could borrow e-books for free from my library. That blew my mind.
Yes, despite being only in my thirties, I’m more old-school than most grandparents.
Thanks to Bri, I started downloading e-books from the Asheville library onto my phone like crazy. Jerud would find me reading on my phone in the car when I was waiting for him to run errands or hiding under the blanket in bed at 3 AM. He would frequently ask me, along with friends who saw me, how I could read books on my phone. Wasn’t the text too small, wasn’t it uncomfortable, don’t I want to buy a Kindle instead?
Periodically during the past two years I’ve thought about getting the Kindle on and off. Bri even wanted to buy me a Kindle as a Christmas gift. But I had stated my reasons for not wanting one often enough that she knew better than to get me one.
I find reading on my phone to be wonderful. It’s one less device to own, have on my small nightstand, and keep track of. It also means I always have my books with me because I always have my phone with me (yes, I know I can read it on the Kindle app and it’ll automatically synch my place in the actual Kindle).
A few months ago, Marshall (of Finding Marshall) passed down his old Kindle device (that was passed down to him). I took it because I figured it was free and would be a good opportunity to settle whether I want one or not. It quickly turned out I don’t. It didn’t help that the Kindle was old enough that it came with a separate reading light.
That explains why I love reading on my phone but not why I prefer it over real books.
Just the other day, I brought a recently checked out library book into the bathroom in hopes to read a couple of sentences while I peed (don’t worry, I washed my hands after wiping and before picking the book back up). It took me a brief second to realize that the book doesn’t have a backlight and I wasn’t able to read a single word in the dark room.
I’ve noticed that I’m a bit more neurotic about germs than I used to be. Mainly just people-germs. How many people before me have picked that book up after using the bathroom and not washing their hands? Books are kind like dollar bills in that way - having been touched by a lot of hands. A lot of unwashed hands after using the bathroom. When I start really thinking about it, I get grossed out.
That being said, I love Little Free Libraries. I find them to be so idyllic and romantic. Housed in these dreamy miniature houses, painted in colors that resemble the personality of the neighborhood it’s in. These are books donated out of the goodness of people’s hearts and their desire to share with one another. It’s a place to pass along books so their lives don’t end up sitting on a dusty long-forgotten shelf.
But at the end, I still prefer reading books on my iPhone. Even if I do occasionally drop the phone on my face as I lay in bed with my hand extended above my head. But aside from those handful of incidents (which I know will continue to happen), I find it easier to read in bed with my phone than finding a comfortable position to hold my book and sit/lay/curl in bed. Reading on my phone also means I don’t have to turn on the light above our pillows and keep Jerud up. It’s easy for me to look up the definition of words and for me to copy and paste passages that I really enjoy.
Yes, finding a section I want to re-read in a paperback book is a lot simpler than trying to locate it in my Kindle app. There’s still something wonderful about holding a book in my hand, looking at the cover in full size, and seeing what font the author has taken the time to choose. But real books also take up space in the Toaster that we don’t really have and it’s a bit more difficult to get them when we travel from town to town.
For now, I’m blissfully content with reading a variety of books on my iPhone and I’m so thankful that digital libraries exist – regardless of how we each choose to access them.
Some Books I've Enjoyed:
Water For Elephants - By Sara Gruen
A Little Life: A Novel - By Hanya Yanagihara
Circling the Sun - By Paula McLain
All The Light We Cannot See - By Anthony Doerr
Serena - By Ron Rash
Eating Animals - By Jonathan Safran Foer
Furiously Happy - By Jenny Lawson
Citizen Canine - By David Grimm
The Help - By Kathryn Stockett
Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - By Mary Roach