Another day, another ebooks-BAD-because-you-can’t-dogear-the-pages screed—this time in the L.A. Times, which should know better. As astute commenter Kate points out in a recent thread at Mental Multivitamin, ebook doomsayers often make a faulty assumption that it’s an either/or situation: that once you’ve gone Kindle you’ll never pick up a codex again. Which is just silly—a narrow vision of the reading life. I didn’t ditch my oven just because my microwave does some things better. Sometimes I want to bake a cake. Sometimes I want to curl up with a couple of kids on each side and pore over the pictures in a book made of paper.
But…sometimes I want to read the new Connie Willis novel without getting a squint-headache from the small print.
Sometimes I want to bring a half-dozen books with me on a trip, but I’d rather not weigh down my shoulder bag.
Sometimes I want to read in the dark without disturbing my husband. (For this, my phone is better than my Kindle.)
Sometimes I want to fall asleep reading without smacking myself awake when a big fat book falls on my face at the moment I drift off. (This has happened more times than I can count.)
Sometimes I want to sit down in a chair, which is a lot easier when it isn’t full of advanced review copies awaiting my attention. (NetGalley, you are a revelation.)
But also? Sometimes I want to read Elizabeth Bishop and see the notes I wrote in the margins in grad school.
Sometimes I want to walk through the house grabbing picture books off a shelf, building a pile with which to delight a small child at what she calls “quiet reading time,” which means “time ALONE with Mom and a mountain of books.” (Ain’t nothing quiet about it.)
Sometimes I want to flip back and forth in the pages of a nonfiction text, filling the pages with flags and sticky notes.
Sometimes I want to follow a cookbook recipe, and you just know I’m going to splatter something.
Sometimes I want to leave a book in the path of a person I suspect is going to be swept away by its charms.
It’s awfully nice to have choices.
UPDATED to add: I love this comment by Mary Alice about the unforeseen benefits of her family’s shared Kindle account.
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2011 in Books