I Want Both

Lately I’ve been noticing the visceral differences between reading a book and reading an eBook.  Some are obvious.  It’s not a good idea to take an eReader into the hot tub, but taking one on a long trip is much better than schlepping fifteen paperbacks.  Here’s a real oddity, though.

The modern style of paragraphing is for short journalistic snippets with lots of white space to rest the readers’ eyes.  Victorian paragraphs went on forever.  One odd consequence of reading eBook editions of the old novels is that I find those interminable paragraphs more readable on the small screen.  When I was an undergraduate I plodded through Anthony Trollope’s novels.  Now I frisk through them on my reader.  I have no idea why.

I love books.  I used to eat them when I was two.  When I was four my mother read me A Child’s Garden of Verses from a book with world-class photographs I can still visualize.  When I got my first library card at seven, I read the amassed works of Zane Grey without understanding anything except that it was great to be a Girl of the Golden West.  When I was twelve I was checking out ten books a week from the adult collection.  Had there been booksstores in that town, I would have spent every babysitting nickel on books.

I had no discrimination.  I read War and Peace and Ethel M. Dell with equal attention, though I thought Tolstoy was, like, heavier.  I read Shakespeare.  I read Heinlein’s juveniles.  I read the Grimm Brothers.  You get the idea.  Now the either/or brigades are calling on me to choose between a Nook and a book.  The heck with it.  I want both.

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