I think there were always two places I loved to smell. One was Baskin-Robbins. My grandparents would take me there when I was very small, and I can still remember standing in front of one of those freezers, not really even tall enough to see through the glass behind which lay the big tubs of ice cream. And for years, I just loved the smell every time I stepped into one of those stores: milky with the overlay of warm fudge and toasty cones and somehow even the scent of the freezers themselves.
The other places that make my nose happy are bookstores and libraries. While graced with similar scents, libraries (and used-book stores) have the tang of age and dust. Bookstores are crisper and fresher, but both just smell like paper and ink somehow. Ahhh. So welcoming and soothing.
So I love the smell of books. I also love how they feel, just turning page after page, whether a new book with fresh, untouched paper, or an old, beloved tome with soft pages that are worn down like Grandma’s bedsheets.
Then there’s just looking at them. My office walls are lined with bookshelves, shelf upon shelf of paperbacks and hardcovers, fiction and nonfiction, classics and newly published, humor and memoir, religious, dictionaries and thesauruses. I love swiveling around from my computer to cast my eyes on these old friends. Of course, my living room has a wall lined with books too, some of my prettiest ones, matching sets, coffee table books, and a few of my absolute favorites. And my bedroom has a small bookshelf near my side of the bed, with some books I haven’t gotten around to reading yet but hope to. My daughters’ rooms all have lots of shelves, too, with all the picture books, tween and young adult books I’ve amassed over the years. I can walk into any room of the house and feast my eyes on my paper-and-ink friends.
Now. That said, I was resistant to the idea of ebooks, particularly the Kindle. Considering how much I’ve engaged in a love affair with print books for 40 years, the concept of holding a little electronic device didn’t excite me. It was kind of ugly and just seemed rather pointless. And how could I betray my longtime associates, all with their eyes watching my every move throughout my house?
Sadly, that all changed when the Kindle Fire arrived late last fall. It seduced me with its beautiful, sleek lines and full-color screen. Its multifunctionality is what snagged me, I think. I could watch videos on it if I wanted, in larger size than I could view on my iPod Touch. Knowing that all I had to do was take along this one gadget to the gym for my daily workouts and be able to read or watch a movie or TV show, given what kind of mood I was in, was a huge selling point. I’ve been reading books on workout machines for years, and it’s always been awkward, though I’ve managed. Even using those plastic book-holders that slide over a machine’s console has certainly never been ideal. If the book is slim, the pages never get held down flat, and if it’s thick, it’s hard to turn pages. Argh. So knowing I wouldn’t have to use the plastic thingies as often was oh-so-tempting.
I had also started to be lured to the ebook device when reading a very thick novel. No matter where I was, at the gym or on a comfy couch, holding up that 750-page tome to read was sometimes a little annoying. And knowing that there was an alternative … well, I heard that siren call.
So I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. And I have been using it practically nonstop ever since. It’s so easy to carry around, and I can switch among books easily. (I tend to like reading two or three books at the same time, and having them all in my hand at once makes switching and choosing a snap.) I’ve downloaded a number of classics that, somehow, I didn’t own … all for FREE. Who can resist free books, people?
I love the dictionary feature. I have a very good vocabulary, but there are still some books that offer up words I haven’t heard or am not too familiar with, and on my Kindle, all I have to do to look up their meanings and pronunciations is hold my finger on the word for a second. Up pops a dictionary entry. I no longer have to ignore my curiosity or interrupt my reading to go on the hunt for a dictionary off my shelf; it’s instant, and my reading can continue posthaste. It’s so cool!! I’ve been reading a series set in the 1700s that features some archaic words and location-specific vocabulary, and it has been the neatest thing to look up meanings so easily and quickly. I love it!
Along those same lines, if the dictionary won’t do it, I can quickly switch over to the Web feature and do a quick Google search for a phrase or place or something else I don’t understand or know little about. Quick, easy, handy information at my fingertips. Awesome.
I’ve already mentioned how it’s much easier to read a very thick book on my thin Kindle. It satisfied my hopes in that vein. The Outlander series I’ve been enjoying so much, set primarily in 1700s Scotland (so far), comprises about 8 very thick books. It’s been a lot easier to handle these 700-plus-page tomes as ebooks.
And let’s not forget instant gratification. I thought I’d “try” the first Outlander book on my Kindle because of its length, and I got hooked on the great story and characters. When I finished, I had to know what happened next, so all I had to do was go to the Kindle store and press a button. In seconds, the entire second book was there in my palm. Ahhh. No waiting for a trip to the library or a book to arrive in the mail (because we no longer have a bookstore here in town, thanks to Borders going under). Oh, no. When I really want a book, I can get it immediately. I love that!
All in all, my Kindle and I are very happy together. Sure, it has its downsides. I have to charge it every couple of days, but it doesn’t take long. And the Fire is hard to read in direct sunlight, such as when I’m driving in a car at certain times of day. That’s a problem. And like all electronic devices, I’m sure it’s going to give me a few fits. But even so, I’m still thoroughly enjoying my Kindle. I still love to look at all my books on the shelves. And the series I already have in hardback I’ll still finish buying in paper form, just to have a complete set, or I’ll buy certain books in their standard form for other sentimental or practical reasons. And even though I can borrow some books on Kindle from the library, most I still have to get in old-style form. That’s OK. For now, I like my new e-pal.