Book is to E-reader What Baby is to “Newchild”

To those of you who enjoy my blog: sorry about the lapse. My life has been consumed lately as I wade through the flooded market, looking for a teaching job. And, of course, work my two current jobs, train for a triathlon, and, these past two weeks, teach summer school at a charter that I am attempting to woo. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. My dad forced me to eat all that I dished on my plate, which left no room for dessert. In this metaphor, knitting is my dessert. Blogging about it is the fudge drizzled on my brownie.

Yes, I am nearly 28 and looking for my first job teaching middle school or high school English. This is the road that my love for literature, writing, education, and children has finally led me. This list of interests may seem like one of those connect-the-dots that are painstakingly obvious even without the numbers as a guide.  Forgive my wandering young adulthood; I never was very good at seeing the forest for the trees.

What is that you ask? What does this have to do with knitting? Well… um, I guess I’m attempting to establish my intimate relationship with books so that I can then tell you about my initial resistance to electronic readers, what finally convinced me to join the 21st century, and, finally, about the creation of my eventual house warming gift to my Kindle: a lovely, orange embrace. Sorry. The connection is more of a bridge than a fork in the road. Don’t look down at the river. We’ll both feel better that way. Instead, look at the Kindle cover!

Anyway – books. They are my comfort objects.  If I could cuddle with them without judgment, I would. Come to think of it, many books migrate from their spot on my bookshelf to up above me (on a shelf) and beside me (on my nightstand) as I sleep. I suppose I hope for a Chicken Little kind of transmission of information someday. I not only love their content, but their physical presence in my home, in my hands, in my memory. There is nothing like seeing the cover of a long-lost book again. I suppress a squeal, call it by name, and gush, gush, gush.

So when these new-fangled e-readers entered the bookstores off the assembly line, covered in bubble wrap, I barfed. Not really, but I said I was going to several times. I judged the e-owners and was convinced they were not reading, but playing Farmville.

But then something terrible happened: people I respected started buying these things. And I was forced to hold several of them in my puritanical hands as they tried to convince me that the devices would not be the end of all things good. I resisted. I ranted. I ralphed. Again – hyperbole.

And then my friend, Sam, had to go and say something ingenius, “You don’t have to give up your books, Quinn. It’s just a different medium with added features.”

This, along with the knowledge that many of the books that I wanted were free to download (yay for expired copyrights!), and a Christmas bonus the same amount as the cost of a Kindle, persuaded me to give it a try.

And… it convinced me. Sam was right – I did not have to give up my books. Along with my bookshelf, I now have a portable library. If I tire of a book, there are several other choices at my fingertips. If a conversation warrants some wisdom from a book I read two months ago, it’s there with the book I am reading now. If I finish the first book of the Hunger Games series and need to indulge my seventh grade self further, I can expand my library with just a few clicks. Also, who among us lugs a dictionary around everywhere we go? Well, I do now! Not only does the Kindle come with a dictionary, but all you have to do to look up a word is move the cursor in front of the word you need defined! Also, it is much easier to read in bed and at the gym. I don’t have to hold open a book, just push a button. Beautiful.

No, I do not work for Amazon.

I still prefer to own a tangible book and feel a bit uncomfortable being seen reading a screen (do they think I burnt all my books?).  When I cuddle up in my reading chair with bound paper, I feel less like Mildred Montag (R.I.P. Mr. Bradbury). I am more inspired to read and connect with a book when it has a cover and a bookmark, a picture of the author, and waterstains. And, practically, it is still easier to peruse, find a spot, and reread a portion when you can sift through pages.

A comparison came to me yesterday when I had my fifth graders analyze language in The Giver: school is “learning community,” stuffed animal is “comfort object,” family is “family unit,” recess is “recreational period.” My students recognized the sterility and technicality in Lowry’s word choice that conveys a cold, sterile, emotionally-stunted society (okay, so maybe I had to put some words in their mouths, but they got there).  They then drew pictures of their homes and relabeled things in a Lowryian manner.  And I thought of my reading device.

Book is to e-reader what baby is to “newchild.”  So I wrapped the sterile looking e-reader in a homemade case of my favorite color. And that helped a little.