I read a book yesterday.
Actually, I read a LOT of books, but it's been a while since I picked up an honest-to-goodness physical, dead-tree book. For the past couple of years, just about all the books I read are on my Kindle.
The Kindle has been immensely liberating for me, because I no longer have to wait up to 6 weeks for a book I've ordered via the internet to arrive, nor fight with Customs and/or the VAT folks after I've shlepped to the Post Office to pick it up. The British Council, which ran the only English-language lending library worth visiting, packed up all its Israeli branches a few years ago, which left the local literary giant, Steimatsky's, in firm control of the English book market. It charges very high prices for a very narrow range of books, mostly of the best seller or romance varieties. There are also a couple of second-hand book stores downtown, but my reading tastes are usually at odds with the stuff they offer. Further, adding ebooks to my Kindle avoids the shipping costs which can double the price of a book ordered from overseas.
My reading patterns have been affected by both the audiobook and the ebook. I look for good dramatic readings of stories in audio -- strict narratives, such as most nonfiction, I find boring in audio, even in the hands of the best readers [and most tend to read books without dialogue in a monotone, and often much too rapidly to absorb the material]. It is also difficult to go back to a portion that you particularly want to remember. But audio allows me to do other things, such as housework or handicrafts without visual interference. As time goes by, I find myself watching less and less TV. There's less worth watching, in spite of there now being so many channels I can't keep track of them all.
I tend to buy non-fiction for my Kindle. I'm a history buff anyway; always have been. But, over time, nonfiction "holds up" better than most fiction, I find. I can reread a history book where a single reading of a fictional work usually leaves me with such a good memory of it that rereading is superfluous [I've never understood how people can read certain favorite books umpteen times -- by the third time I'd read Lord of the Rings, I'd memorized large sections without meaning to] Besides, it may be a crass consideration, but when one has a limited budget, and reads fast, one wants more "bang for the buck". I confess I check the length of both an audiobook or a "normal" book because why pay a considerable sum for something that I'll finish fast?
The first thing I noticed when I hefted the first volume of Jonathan Sumption's history of the 100 Years' War was how heavy it was [it was in trade paperback]. I'd forgotten that, and since I broke my wrist about 5 years ago, I feel the weight more. A Kindle, or an iPad, is light. The next "surprise" was when I realized I couldn't enlarge the typeface. I've been wearing glasses for over 20 years, but I used to pride myself on not minding small type [again, a thick book with small type contains more than a book of the same page length with big type, so longer to finish and savor. I've always been a "big book person"]. Then, I had to remember to use a bookmark. I had to turn on the porch lights, thereby making myself a prime target for everything flying and biting. There wasn't any search function to find a reference I suddenly wanted. Yeah, there was an index, but it wasn't as comprehensive as the Kindle search. How odd, I found myself thinking. And, at that point, I realized how much I'd changed because of the change in technology. Recently, I'd begun emptying my overstuffed bookshelves because either I'd decided a book would never be read again, or I had it in Kindle form. Gone are the days when I dithered for long minutes, prior to leaving the house for a doctor's visit, etc. trying to decide which book to take with me, or adding kilos to suitcases when going on vacation.
There are still books not available in ebook form that I have no choice but to read in their physical form, such as Vikram Seth's "A Suitable Boy". But the future has arrived, and I for one, am not sad to see it.
|Your Brain is Green|