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In praise of the physical book.

One of the blogs I follow, “Find a girl who reads”, here on WordPress wrote a great little ditty in praise of the physical book versus the ereader. Sadly, I think this post was deleted from her blog because the link no longer exists ( if you want to get to her page), but the gist of it stuck with me.

About a month or so ago, I wrote a post on Facebook about my experience turning the page in my library book and finding an unidentified blob of spilled food (probably a hunk of dried pepperoni and cheese, is my guess). While gross to many, I, however, find this comforting. It makes we me feel warm and strangely loved, to come across such a used book. This is why I will never 100% commit to the ereader.

My fiancé doesn’t understand my level of giddiness when I come across a smudged or coffee stained page in a borrowed book. To me, it is a human connection made during a solitary activity. I love finding stray receipts in library books. I like to see where other people have shopped, or what other books they checked out. I leave the receipts as they were for the next library patron. Some folks are strict about never breaking the spine on their books, but not me. I make sure to give the spine on my store-bought books a good crack. Builds character, I say. I like the smell of the page, and I like to skip from whatever chapter I’m reading to the very back and read the the acknowledgements. I read the typeface notes, the copyright notes, to whom the author dedicated the book. In short, I like have ACCESS to my physical book whenever I want, without having to touch a computer like screen.

Yes, the ereader lets you do all of these things, but it is not the same. And yes, I do own an ereader. Mine is an old-school Nook, purchased about 2 years ago. I bought it mostly to have for vacations, since I can go through a couple of books or more with uninterrupted time, and also to have for my book club, which comes in handy when someone chooses a newly released novel and the wait at the library is long. But I always find myself coming back to the physical book. As I said before, there is comfort in knowing and not knowing how many times one book has gone through a number of hands. How many people have enjoyed what I just read? Cradled this book in the crook of his or her arm right before turning out the light? Who else laughed out loud at the same paragraph that I just finished? And what other person out there was moved to tears by a specific chapter?

The proof of such love and enjoyment is in the cookie crumbs, the spilled food, the coffee splatters and haphazardly folded corner pages with in a book.

For my 2013 book challenge, I’m trying to desperately to read all of my 50 chosen books strictly through the library system alone. Why? For starters, I think the library system, the Los Angeles system in particular, is pretty amazing. Almost any book ever written, is simply sitting on a shelf waiting to be read. And we already pay for it, secondly. But also, it is my way of saying thank you to the physical book. There are many people who can’t afford a Kindle or a Nook. Perhaps some of these people don’t bother to read, in this case. But books are accessible and READY to be read. Not to dismiss the ereader, but I much prefer the reading experience coming from the physical book. There is a magic there that a flat screen just can’t capture.

Perhaps I will also add my own chocolately smudge to the bottom of the page from a melting cookie as I sit under the shady tree in my backyard with the comfort of my trusty library book. Can’t smudge an ereader, oh no, the screen just wipes clean.

Ps- Follow Diane Keaton on twitter, if you are a book lover. She posts a lot of great photos and comments regarding books, libraries, and reading.


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