In defence of the Kindle

Kath's Bookshelf / Friday, July 10th, 2020

I rearranged my suitcase before kneeling on its top, willing the zip to budge. I took out a pair of shoes and two t-shirts. I knelt again, a bead of sweat falling from the top of my forehead and splashing onto the top of my suitcase. “You know if you just buy a Kindle you wouldn’t have five giant books limiting your footwear options?” my mum judged me from behind my back.

“I will never get a Kindle,” I pledged, not even considering her assertion as worthy of a second more of my time. I took out the biggest book, bringing it close to my chest and apologising to its cover. I placed it to one side and pulled the suitcase together, zipping it shut with a little more ease.

There will be no packing for a summer holiday this year but, even so, I took the leap and bought myself a Kindle – this one here. Partly because I’d been considering its merits for a while now (arguably greener, books cost less and you can store thousands of stories within one, easy-to-travel-with device), but mostly because Aaron keeps glaring at me as I add more and more new paperbacks to the living room bookshelf.

Now, as I sit, back straight, on the edge of the sofa as if it’s a dining room table chair, I drum my fingers against the white rectangle on my lap. The smallest library you’ve ever seen. I look to my real library; the living room shelves that are home to books that are blue, green, yellow, pink and orange. I nod, as if preparing myself for battle, knowing I need to let these go; if only for 300 pages or so.

I bring my Kindle to life and select the first book I’ll end up completing, within two days of starting it. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. If I’ve pushed aside all of my “I will only ever read paper books” speeches, I was going to make sure I start my Kindle journey on a high.

I slowly navigate my way through the first chapter, enjoying the rhythm of tapping to the right to ‘turn’ the page. And because it’s a Tayari Jones book and every other sentence should be made into wall art, I learn the highlight feature; picking out my most favourite combinations of words she has sewn together to keep forever, on record. Soon I am getting competitive with the little number in the bottom, right hand corner. The one that tells me I am 4% of the way through, and then 10%, and then 30%. I’ll show you, I mutter.

Less uptight, I relax into the book, silently praising the way the Kindle holds me, not the other way around, as it slips comfortably into the nook in between my index finger and my thumb. The room grows darker, but the screen grows brighter, accommodating the shift in the day without me having to even lift a finger.

I scroll through my new library, a virtual one I never thought I’d own. I purchase a couple more books I have always wanted to read; for 99p or £1.99. I watch as they drop into my collection and I look forward to reading Pretending by Holly Bourne and Dominicana by Angie Cruz.

There is nothing like a paperback but, in defence of the Kindle, it can hold a thousand stories and still be lighter than the latest popular literary sensation.

There is nothing like a paperback but, in defence of the Kindle, you can finally read in the dark.

There is nothing like a paperback but, in defence of the Kindle, you don’t have to wait a day – or even ten seconds – for your book to arrive.

There is nothing like a paperback but, in defence of the Kindle, you can still finish a book and share it with a friend.

There is nothing like a paperback but, in defence of the Kindle, I probably waited a few too many years to get an e-reader.

I haven’t yet owned my slinky book gadget for a week and I’m already dreaming of taking it somewhere sunny and far away.

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