Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Soul of A Book

The TV is off. The iPad is shutdown. The iPod is silent. The smartphone's volume is down. Night has arrived and it's time to shimmy under the blanket on my couch and read. Now the decision. Do I turn on my Kindle or pick up a book?

The answer for me is always, pick up a book. Maybe it's because I'm sick of turning gadgets on and off. Maybe it's because I'm tired of viewing the world through plexiglass. Maybe it's because it feels like I'm at work where I spend many hours in front of a screen. Maybe it's because books are simple—no Facebook, movies, storing options, etc. Nothing to figure out or distract me. Books don't come out with a new and improved version every couple of years; only when they become a movie or have a major anniversary.

The bottom line is: I don't like reading for pleasure from a machine. Not at home. Not at the beach. Not on an airplane. Not anywhere.

Call me old fashioned.

I know I'm not.

Call me technologically impaired.

Moderately true. 

Whatever, I just can't get into this e-reading thing. Sure. I've downloaded books and have tried reading with my Kindle or iPad as the stack of books on my coffee table glare at me. And to my books' relief, I inevitably turn it off and reach for the paper copy of my latest read.

That being said, my Kindle is one of my best friends as an author. I can price my novel really low to entice people to take a chance with it. I can buy research books related to my settings, characters and plot inexpensively and store them for easy access, and I can save magazine articles that could be the basis for a riveting story. But when it comes to pleasure reading I say, "No thank you."

When I'm nestled on my couch holding a book, I am calm and comfortable. After a day immersed in machines, I'm holding something real. I'm touching a glossy cover, smelling print and paper, seeing a pretty bookmark, hearing the pages crinkle, tasting its companions: chamomile tea and shortbread cookies. A true sensory experience. Maybe even beyond.

I can almost hear the author telling me the story. I feel the emotion he/she felt as they created characters and scenes. I sense the creative energy captured on the pages of this piece of art. I feel the book's soul. A soul that is lost when it is transferred from paper to machine.

I know many people read exclusively by e-reader, and I get it. It's more organized, efficient and economical. It's just not for me.

I would much rather be


than here.

What about you?


The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCollough. This epic novel about the fierce, forbidden love between a woman and her priest still evokes emotion in me 34 years after I read it. When anyone asks me what is my favorite novel, The Thorn Birds automatically pops out of my mouth.


The Beatles sing, "Paperback Writer." Should it be revised to "Digital Writer"?



  1. I could not agree with you more. I love the smell, feel, and even weight of books. I miss turning down the corners, highlighting with my yellow marker, and using one of many favorite bookmarks. However, the e-book is great for those plane rides when I am trying to keep the weight and clutter of my purse down.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. I think e-books and paper books will both find their way into our lives, sort of like pay per view movies and movie theaters.

  2. My husband agrees with you. He won't even consider getting an e-reader. As for me, I'll read books any way I can -- on my Kindle, in paperback, or in hardback. I'll buy them, check them out of the library, or accept loans from friends. If the writing is good, then the way it's delivered doesn't matter to me!

    1. I'm still with your husband, Sandra. Like I said, though, the e-reader can be a new author's best friend.

  3. I so agree, and think you nailed it when you said "books are simple"
    I feel challenged constantly to learn new techie things at home, work, with my writing - it is a relief to simply pick up a book and know exactly how to work it.
    that said - I just downloaded "A Stop in the Park" on my kindle :)

    1. Thanks Carol. You cannot beat the economy of an e-book especially when taking a chance on a new author. Although I love paperbooks for reading, as a new author, e-books really are where the selling takes place.

  4. I'm right there with you, Peggy. The idea that books might become obsolete really frightens me. I hope it doesn't happen in my lifetime. I finished your book, "A Stop in the Park," yesterday and I loved it! I will write a review on Amazon in the next day or two.

    1. Number one ~ thanks for the compliment and the review, Linnea. I'm so with you on my love of books. I buy at least one book in a store every month thinking that may save them somehow.

  5. I too will always go for a book first. Feeling that masterpiece in my hands is so enriching and rewarding! I just got my first Kindle Fire as a gift and have no idea how to even use it.

  6. Definitely in agreement here, Peggy. Not into the e-reading at all! Tried one evening to download a book after I thought I had successfully downloaded Kindle. Never did get the book and I won't even tell you how much time was wasted!

    Love the feel of the REAL macoy. . .got your book and can't wait to read it. Got to get some things caught up first for I know once I began I will be so into it I will not want to put it down. It is not usual for me to get so involved that 2 maybe 3 AM arrives and I don't even know it!

  7. I still don't have an e-reader but will be asking for one for Christmas. When I go away for a weekend, I always bring several books and magazines. I'll have some long-distance travel in 2013 and an e-reader will be easier to manage than a stack of books. But back at home, I'll be picking up "real" books.