I will stand up now and say I used to have no time for the Kindle.
It went against every bone in my body not to hold a real book, feel the texture of the paper and inhale the woody, musky scent when you turned the pages.
Reading has always been an emotional and sensory pastime for me – anticipated, cherished, almost spiritual. From being small it was wonderful to escape to worlds of imagination outside anything I knew in my normal life. To read was/ is to live – it nourishes the soul, revives the spirit, makes you question, debate and analyse. It takes you to places and introduces you to characters who enrich your mind, stretch your ideas.
A few years ago I discovered I had cataracts – it was a shock. I’m too young, obviously, but the facts couldn’t be changed and for the first time I realised how bleak life would be if I couldn’t read.
I’d spent the previous winter unable to read unless I had the brightest of lights to illuminate the pages, and then only for a short time before they were strained so much I couldn’t see a thing. It was agony to have to choose between books because my eyes could only cope with so much. It was a humbling experience.
I have alluded to the operation elsewhere, but I never said what an incredible feeling it was to take off the bandages and see clearly. I will never take my sight for granted again.
Reading once more became a pleasure to be immersed in, a joy. There was no way I would switch to a cold, hard, tablet of technology to get my nourishment.
Until last summer.
I’d just started Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, a huge tome of a book the size and weight of several house bricks. I wanted to take it on vacation with me, along with a couple of beach books for the nine-hour flight. I didn’t finish the book on the vacation, or on the flight home. I toted that darn thing half way round the world and back and I determined not to make the same mistake again.
I investigated the Kindle and talked over my change of heart with the Captain, who was appalled and mystified at my about-turn. Wouldn’t I rather have an iPad? Something more useful?
No, I wanted a Kindle and the Captain, with grave misgivings I’d made a really bad decision, bought me one for Christmas. I’ve never looked back. It’s small, compact, ergonomically perfect and I can download a book in seconds. Do I miss browsing in bookshops? No, that’s a pleasure I’ll never give up, but when you live in a place where buying books in your native language is difficult, and waiting for a delivery from Amazon frustrating, then the Kindle is perfect.
Even more exciting, the screen is gentle on the eyes and I can read in less light than I did reading a regular book, and for twice as long. If I’m into the story and want to keep on reading with tired eyes, I can increase the font size. It’s reached the point I’m having difficulty reading normal books, they feel wrong in my hands.
There are some books I will, and do, read in paper format, but if I want a book to read now, then I download it and voilà.
If I’m honest, and I try to be, there is one benefit to owning a Kindle I didn’t appreciate until I owned one. No, it’s not that it can hold 3,500 books or connect to the internet to pick up emails.
I have a guilty secret. Whilst I love and appreciate books of depth, knowledge and great wisdom, I love trashy beach books too, especially in airports, on planes or in traffic jams. The beauty of the Kindle is no-one can see what you’re reading, it could be War and Peace or it could be trash, and no one knows.
Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to find some delicious light reading for the Easter break.