I was a slow sell on the e-reader idea. I’m a bit of a purist and more than a bit old fashioned. But those advertisements were more than a bit convincing and I began to talk about the possibility. Next thing I know, there’s the box with the big A on it on my front step and I’m a Kindler and another book obsession is born. Just like the paper-based books in my house, I now have more e-books than I can read in a lifetime.

And yes, I still have both. I’ve known extremists on both sides: people who see me with my reader and look like they’ve smelled a skunk, declaring adamately how they would NEVER own such a contraption; and a group I’ve heard of recently who are bookaholics, but sold or gave away every “real” book to devote themselves exclusively to their e-readers. Both are ridiculous and narrow.

The advantages on both sides make it impossible to choose. Wherever I go, I carry hundreds of books and an entire research library with me. I drive a lot and have recently discovered the text-to-speech option on my reader. The robotic voice took a bit of getting used to, but once I got the cadence, I could follow it easily. And when else can you hear, “She grabbed the phone and dialed nine hundred eleven.” Or: “Em are ess Shaw…..” (Mrs. Shaw). And so I have the power of story wherever I go, even in otherwise “wasted” time.

And the “old fashioned” paper version? Oh my. There’s something calming and blood pressure lowering about turning the pages of a book, the feel of the paper, the smell of the pages, the very music of the sound.

When I was in fourth grade, after recess, Mrs. Struble would sit at her desk, dim the classroom lights, and read while we rested. I don’t know what my classmates did, but I watched her. She sat up straight, the book in front of her on the desk. As she read, looking down, I imagined that’s what she must look like when she slept since her eyes looked closed. As she read, her right hand would slide slowly up the side of the book, her index finger hooking over the top of the next page. Then her hand would slide back down, her finger separating the page from the next. After she turned the page, her right hand would begin again, sliding up the side of the book.

The book. I wanted that book. Indeed, I was usually the first in line to check them out of the library when she returned them. There is one, all these years later, that I still read to my classes.

She started my love of story and I can only hope she knew that somehow, since I never got the chance to tell her. But more, by her very demeanor, she started my love of BOOKS themselves. I’ve been a collector ever since. And yet…. I have a sneaking suspicion Mrs. Struble would have owned – and loved – an e-reader.

A couple nights ago, I was searching on another e-device for a picture book for the little one. She crawled up and snuggled my arm, looking with me, and complaining about how much they cost. I just wanted to do something special for her.

“Oh, I have that one!” she cried, and ran to her room and back, handing me the book and snuggling back up again as I began to read.

I butchered the first line terribly, made a noise and tried again. On the third try, I got it, but by then she was laughing so hard, I had to stop and come at it again anyway.

“See?” she said, still giggling. “The iPad can’t do that.”

I pulled my giggling girl up to me and continued reading.

Nope. Can’t do that indeed.

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One thought on “To e or Not to e

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