I learned to read at a very young age, around 5 or 6 years old. I was the kid who was made popular by being able to read to the other kids during recess. In primary school I was a librarian spending all my free time within the library, sorting out books, entering reading competitions and being first in line at every Harry Potter release.
The arguments I had with my mother weren’t your usual ones. They went something like this.
Mom: No Mal, you can’t get this book. Didn’t I buy you 5 last week?
Mal: I read them all already, come on mom, I need to read [insert title] before someone from school spoils the ending!
Mom: No, you need to focus on your school work. Reading is taking too much time away from this
**Old lady eavesdropping on conversation pipes in**
Old Lady: Excuse me; are you actually encouraging your child to not read?
Mal: Yes, Its child abuse. Please alert child welfare and the Department of Education!
I was not nicknamed “Bookworm” for nothing I guess. On a 3 day trip to Durban, I would pack 7 books… 2 for the 6 hour drive, 2 for the return drive and the other 3 for every day I spent on holiday. It drove my parents crazy, but that was me and my love of the good old paperback.
Nothing excites me more than visiting a book store, I can spend literally hours creeping the shelves reading each blurb and paging through the new romances, glancing at the fantasy section, eyeing the sex divisions and studying up on my favorite- esoteric.
Second hand book stores are also an obsession with mine, as I could complete my many collections, thumbing through dusty yellowed pages. It kind of excites me when I pick up an old book and see a signature or letter from the previous owner within it. Who owned it? What was their favorite part? Were they reluctant to let it go, as I always was when I had to sell to make space in my book shelf?
One of my favorite spaces in my house is my bookshelf, which reaches from the ceiling to the ground. It’s not as extensive as my mom’s Mills & Boons collection, but I reckon she’ll croak eventually and I can take over that space too. My shelves are a mini library, everything is alphabetized or in chronological order and I can immediately tell when something is missing. There is something so satisfying about having a collection of books that represents your interests, to show off to your friends when they visit. People often stop and look at the shelves and make comments- I doubt that the same holds for eReaders.
Books hold history that eReaders can never do. Where had a novel travelled from to wind up in your hands? Was it a gift? Was it spoken about in some classroom or between friends? That musty smell represents eras of memories within the pages. The broken spines, bent pages, the suspicious spills and coffee mark stains all add character. Convenience cannot replace the simplicity and comfort that a paperback offers.