Hi everyone. I’m in rural southwestern Maine this week, where access is intermittant, so forgive me if I don’t respond. But I’ve been thinking about books. No surprise there. Who doesn’t? But this time it’s because I’ve been cleaning out my office and I have a pile of books five deep and thigh high sitting on my hearth and those were just the ones stacked on my floor. I’m nowhere near ready to empty the four bookshelves in the room. And that doesn’t count the side table full of books in the living room that I intend to read — sometime. Or the back bedroom — the alleged guest room — that is jammed floor to ceiling with — you guessed it — books.
Who needs a bed? We never have guests anyway.
So what it is about books? I know I absolutely need all those research books, and the essential mountainous to-be-read pile, and there are the books I know I’ll get to — soon; nor can I give up my beloved keepers because I’m going to read them again — when I have time; and there are my childhood favorites I love to reread (Nancy Drew anyone?); and the books my English teacher husband read in college and can’t bear to give up.
All the freebies at conferences that cost more to send home than they would to buy them? I don’t care. I have to have them. A friend of mine said we’re all lemmings – we’d dive off a cliff for a box of books.
What is it about books?
And you remember my penchant for buying obscure books? We found a used bookstore in that lovely seacoast town in Maine — you didn’t think I walked out with nothing, did you? (It was Kathleen Norris, perfectly understandable).
And at the flea market at the fairgrounds — what did I buy?
Who could resist “The Rajah’s Fortress?” Wouldn’t you snap that right up? Honestly, who wouldn’t?
I’m even the Recording Secretary my town’s Friends of the Library because we get first dibs at the book sales.
It’s not that I don’t get rid of books either. I’ve sold books, donated books to the Friends’ Library sale (three boxes full just the other day), given books to friends, left books outside and invited people to take them — yet somehow the piles in the house never grow smaller.
I’m the one who used to tote a suitcase full of books on vacation in case I ran out of things to read and the supermarket/bookstore/pharmacy was closed and I couldn’t buy a new book because I’d finished all the others.
So you’d think e-readers would be my salvation and my heaven. Hundreds — no, thousands — of books in the palm of my hand at the instant! Whenever I might want. Anytime anywhere, No more suitcase. No more I’ll-die-if-I-don’t-have-something-to-read frenzy.
Maybe it’s generational.
However, full disclosure, I did get my husband an e-reader for Christmas and I’m really enjoying watching HIM use it. (He downloaded War & Peace, which I think takes care of his leisure reading for the next ten years — and the need to download more.)
And I AM making an effort too. In order to cut down the paper chaos and declutter my life, I decided that if I can check the book I need out of the library, I don’t have to have it in the house.
Sane, right? Sensible. Grown-up.
And if I need that piece of research at ten at night — or two in the morning? … or if I MUST read that book NOW … well, that’s why search engines were invented. That’s the magic of being able to download any book I want any time I want. That’s why I should fully love and embrace my husband’s e-reader as fully as I love and embrace him.
My own last four books are in eBook for heaven’s sake. You’d think I’d want to buy out the store.
I actually think the tipping point might have come today. As I was standing in line at the post office (did you ever notice how much happens in my local post office?), I watched as a woman ahead of me slipped her e-reader from her purse and began unobtrusively reading, and I felt a sudden pang of jealousy. I wanted a book to read. Right then, right there. And I wanted the unlimited choice, right then, right there. All of it, magically, in the palm of my hand.
And there it was, right before my eyes.
But would you believe? I’m still not quite yet sold …
How about you? Are you and your Kindle inseparable, or do you love your books like I do? Are your books spilling on the floor and piled in the closet, or are they neatly contained on a device … I’m still ambivalent …
Thea Devine is the best-selling author of twenty-five steamy historical and contemporary romances. She is working on the sequel to the Darkest Heart, Beyond the Night, to be released April 2013 from Pocket Star.