Book enthusiast learns to love e-reader

Dear Kindles, Nooks and iPads:

As an avid reader, I have spent many hours combing the shelves of libraries for undiscovered treasures, much like a beachgoer searching for buried trinkets with a metal detector.

It was so gratifying to hold a physical book in my hands, turning the cover over to admire its design and the author’s accolades. I volunteered at my local public library for five years as a teenager and always enjoyed being surrounded by familiar friends contained in pages and chapters.

Then you came along. I snuck glances at you while browsing in Barnes and Noble, wary of your glossy packaging and bright screens. I picked you up at friends’ homes and admired the way you stood alone on a coffee table instead of wedged in among paperbacks on the shelf. Still, I felt a pang in my heart for the warm, inviting shelves full of books just waiting to be lent out to a good home.

When I graduated from high school, I moved away from home and thus away from my library.

Coupled with the distance, my budget for any books other than those required for school was reduced to the occasional book sale. I had no time to read for fun.

Most of the text I read for school is purely informational and is peppered with the occasional literary text. As a secondary education major with a focus in English, I figured that I’d be reading much more fiction than I actually do. Alas, I both read and produce works of non-fiction that reflect the logical society we live in today.

I am constantly in front of a screen: my computer, cell phone and iPod are all elements of technology that simplify and enhance my experience as a student. Still, I crave the musty smell of old books, an element of reading that just isn’t available in a digital format.

That’s when a Kindle became my Kindle. As a self-professed book lover, I felt as if I was betraying my old friends when I opened the box containing my new e-reader.

The CDs stowed away in my closet cried with joy, excited to invite my books into the “obsolete club” made possible by my iPod. Was I contributing to the death of literacy by skipping the check-out line in favor of simply clicking and downloading?

The opposite has happened. With the fear of underappreciating my new device, I resolved to read daily and journal how much I read.

I’ve probably read more in two weeks than I have in the last four months. I feel that same familiar sense of excitement to read and discover. I’ll admit that I now love my e-reader, but the books I own will always have a home on my shelves, now next to their digital counterparts.

Fondly,

Ashley Mentzer, a bibliophile

 

Reach the columnist at Ashley.Mentzer@asu.edu or follow her at @soupsnake