Bookshelves – an Endangered Species?

Reading is Fundamental.  That is a superb name for a truly superb program created more than four decades ago to motivate children to read.

But it’s not just a great name for a great program.  It’s also a fundamental truth for those of us who count ourselves among the “voracious readers” of the world.  We read for pleasure every day of our lives and couldn’t live without it.  Many of us take great pride in our collections of books and the overflowing bookshelves in our living rooms, libraries, bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, basements…..

But let’s face it.  These beloved books can become as much a burden as a joy.  How many walls do we have?  How many bookcases do we want to buy or build?  Or dust??

The move to Baja inspired my husband and me to slim down our book collections.  We brought only true favorites with us and now have only two small bookcases.  We don’t want to stockpile and display our books any longer.

But we haven’t slimmed down our reading habits.  At first, we achieved reading- without-stockpiling by passing on our just-read tomes to friends or Cruz Roja’s bookshelves.  But, hey, it’s 2015, people!  Now we have eReaders (me a Kindle, hubby an iPad).

How do I love my eReader?  Let me count the ways.  No more books to dust.  Reading in bed so much easier – no struggling to fold back a paperback or maneuver a heavy hardcover.  My Kindle has a beautifully functioning light, meaning I don’t have to disturb my bedmate when reading in the wee hours.  Traveling?  No more carrying multiple books while headed back East for a summer month or two.  Finish a book while in a foreign country?  No more hunting for an English-language bookstore.  We have all the books we could ever want (virtually every book ever published) at our fingertips in one sleek compact device.  Did I mention that most books via eReader are priced substantially lower than their hardcover twins and usually lower than paperback?  Or that many titles are free?  Did you know that you can borrow eBooks from your public library?  I belong to three and can borrow from any of them while sitting on my living room couch!  But I am saving the best for last.  eReaders are high technology don’t you know?  They can do the most wonderful things.  Don’t know the meaning of a word – tap on it for the definition.  Can’t remember who a character is in one of those novels with too many characters to follow?  Tap on it to find every place she is mentioned in the book and quickly refresh your (perhaps failing) memory.

That last feature alone means I really don’t like reading physical books anymore.  I find myself tapping on a character’s name in one of those dinosaurs … and nothing happens!  I’m still in the dark.

Yes, reading is fundamental.  And, for me, so is my eReader.

About Susan Shea