Saturday, September 10, 2011

Appetizing Reads

I think I trips to the beach are when I love my Kindle best. Currently, I'm reading Outliers, How Did I Get So Busy? The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, One Day and Look Me in the Eye, along with a sampling of the magazines that appear in my mailbox monthly. Then last weekend, I started Crazy Love, though I have yet to finish The Shallows, which I started last summer. In addition, there's a stack of books - both fiction and non-fiction - in the mudroom and another in the living room, just waiting for me to crack them open.

I have trade paperback copies of four of the books at the top of the list, but only two made the cut for last weekend's beach trip (I won't say which two). The rest of them are on my Kindle, which, just as the commercial promised, allowed me to bring a stack of books without causing myself physical trauma from lifting half my body weight in reading material. In addition, my little Kindle contributed next-to-nothing to the already overstuffed carload of  "essentials" that we took with us.

If you're a one-book-at-a-time reader, you may not fully appreciate the beauty of the Kindle. But if you, like me, frequently read numerous books simultaneously, you'll be quick to appreciate its lightweight, space-saving properties. While I appreciated those properties early on, it took me until last weekend to fully          understand why.                                                                                                                   

Many of my friends shake their heads, wondering how - and why - I choose to read so many books at once. As I started Crazy Love (book #7 on the current hit parade, not including those I've abandoned as not living up to my expectations), I found myself wondering exactly the same thing. In addition, I wondered if I'd stopped being a reader and instead become a book taster - sampling many diverse offerings, but failing to finish any of them.

Although my Kindle, with its addictive "Try a Sample" feature has enabled this aspect of my reading personality, I've been a book taster for a long time. Typically, I'm sampling several non-fiction books at once, but only one novel. The structure of non-fiction books make it easy to dive back in effortlessly after life pulls me away, something that is much harder to do with a work of fiction.

As I'm drawn into a relationships with the characters in a  novel, it becomes more difficult to walk out of their lives and into the lives of a new set of characters. Consequently, if I set down a novel and pick up another one, I'm unlikely to finish the first.
It occurred to me last weekend (about the time that I opened Crazy Love because I wanted to read something in that vein) that "tasting" and "sampling" really are the perfect words to describe my peripatetic reading style. Just as some days I'm in the mood for steak and other days I'm in the mood for pizza (cholesterol notwithstanding), some days I'm in the mood for one "flavor" of book and other days I prefer something else.
While I love my Kindle, and the enormous world of e-book convenience it affords me, I'll never stop buying traditional books. E-books may replace hard cover purchases - which I've only ever made sparingly to begin with - but I will continue to fill my home with overflowing stacks of trade paperbacks with their yielding bindings and distinctive new book smell, just as I will continue to feel the magnetic pull of a bookstore every time I walk past.

But meanwhile, I'll continue to be grateful that despite bookstore closings, we continue to live in a world that offers a luscious smorgasbord of books.
 [One Day photo courtesy of; all other photos courtesy of]

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