I belong to an online salon, and one of its other members recently posed the following question: What’s your favorite way to read? He was not pleased when some of us answered that our preferred reading mode was with our eyeballs. I can’t speak for the others, but I wasn’t trying to be a smart-ass, honest.
It’s just that “way to read” is pretty vague, and I didn’t feel like analyzing all the options, so I went with a broad choice: with my eyes, as opposed to with my ears or with my fingers. I have tried several times to learn braille, as I have had vision problems since childhood and very nearly lost my vision in one eye a few years ago, but I thoroughly suck at it. I have come to appreciate audio-books, but listening is still something I have to work at. On the other hand, I’ve been reading with my eyeballs since I was three and am pretty much incapable of ignoring text, so “with my eyes” is the clear winner. I haven’t actually tried reading with my tongue or my nose, but I don’t anticipate that the results would be encouraging.
I do read e-books, and I have three Kindles if you count my phone (which also boasts at least two other e-reader apps), but in most situations I much prefer to have a dead-tree version. (Of those, I possess…well, let’s just call it more than three.) Even for travel, when mass is an issue.
Part of it is nostalgia, true. I love having tangible reminders of my favorite reading experiences and author events.
The smell of antique books takes me back to my grandparents’ home in St Joe. Grandpa had an estate sale
addiction hobby and never failed to return with at least one box of books. Their two-story foyer/stairwell was lined floor-to-ceiling with shelves crammed full of books, and Grandpa always made sure I left with a fresh supply of reading material.
My own childhood home also had a library, and I loved organizing my shelves (and everybody else’s), so it’s no surprise that I was also a student librarian in middle school. But my preference for “real” books also has a basis in practicality. I like to be able to flip back to earlier passages, scan ahead to see if a boring book picks up steam, scribble in the margins, puzzle over previous readers’ bookmark choices, build Christmas trees out of them…. And don’t forget BookCrossing!
I’ll admit it, my inner smart-ass was tempted to answer with “hanging upside down from a railway bridge.” I can read just about anywhere, which my mother appreciated when I was a child. As long as she could stick me in a corner with a book, I’d stay out of trouble. And I’m the one who shows up at the 4th of July picnic with a flashlight and a book. In truth, though, I prefer sitting in my blue armchair next to the fireplace for reading. I bought it specifically for that purpose. I was wandering through IKEA with no actual furniture-buying intent (I go primarily for the frozen Swedish pancakes), but I needed to sit for a bit (hey, IKEA can be physically taxing), and the chair I selected turned out to be perfect for reading.
Oh, who do I think I’m kidding? I was at IKEA to buy bookshelves.