Monday, March 22, 2010


My cousin and I both read a lot, but what and how we read is very different. She is devoted to fanfics and much prefers scrolling computerised pages, with the tv on in the background for the occassional break. She reads books as well, but only if she is unable to find the story she's after online first.
I, on the other hand, despise reading online - aside from obsessive blog trolling of course. For me the story is not just the words on the page but the whole experience: the cover art, the feel of the paper, the location it is read in, the history of the writer, the story, and the book itself. Reading online takes so many of these features away, the story becomes cold, sterile, almost hostile in its reading. It removes a level of connectedness that compells me to read.
I think I've mention once or twice that I love old things, and old books are no different, because they link you to the past in an amazing way. Their smell, their feel, their color, even their war wounds excite me and comfort me. For me, finding a book with yellowing pages, scribble marks, chocolate smudges and dog-eared edges is akin to discovering a Burbery trench - in just the right size - for 75% off. Picking up a book like that means not only is the story obviously worthy of reading (and maybe re-reading), the book was loved by the reader (or readers) and then passed on so that I could share in the goodness inside. It's the same reason I love good food, because sharing either is a chance to share with someone something more than an experience, something more akin to an adventure.
To me the outward appearance, the look, feel and smell of the book are just as important to the reading as the words themselves. With online reading you lose all that. Gone is the ability to put a face to the long-suffering victim on the front cover, gone is the mustiness that reminds you Dickens wrote these words some eighty years ago, gone the exquisite touch of thick, smooth pages that warrant the blowing of your monthly budget to live vicariously through an imaginary vixen. And gone the all-important ability to luxuriate in the reading in any location you choose (for me it's usually under the covers with a naughty treat).
Yes, I am aware there are now portable tablets that allow you to store and read hundreds of books, just like an ipod would music. I'm also aware that laptops can be moved from place to place. But this merely solves the problem of location, and perhaps cover-imagery if there is a photo available. And these factors without all  the others are not enough to prevent me rueing the dreaded day when printed word is completely usurped by the multitude of  media varieties available. For me, even cooking from a recipe book gives me more pleasure than scrolling the endless blogs I love for the perfect afternoon sweetness.
So you'll understand why, after noticing my dear friend Wabi had pledged, that I must do the same. And so I do:

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