Graphic by Jackie Cope and Larissa Lieberson
Some families bequeath fine jewelry. Others pass down expensive silver cutlery or fragile china tea sets.
My family hands down books.
Not antique, autographed works that are worth lots of money. Just books. Specifically, good books. My favorites are the English ones, like the 1942 Agatha Christie and the 1938 Jane Austen.
These battered survivors have lived through three generations of reading mishaps. Pages stained brown by the Irish tea my Nana spilled constantly. Bindings broken from all the times my mom left a book face down on the coffee table. Font smeared by my misadventures at the pool.
A tea-stained 50-year old book has character.
A tea-stained 50-year-old Kindle has no value whatsoever.
I understand the convenience and mobility of these new electronic devices that have backlit screens and built-in dictionaries. But I’m a book-romantic. I don’t just want to read “Pride and Prejudice.” I want to read my “Pride and Prejudice,” the one with the torn cover and a chocolate thumbprint on page 42.
Even when I don’t own the book, I prefer paper to screens. Clicking arrows to scroll through endlessly uniform black text on a gray background is just not the same as turning heavy parchment pages etched with spidery fonts.
When I can touch the paper and smell the glue and ink, I can get lost in the story. My friends still make fun of me about that time I walked into a bus because my nose was buried so deeply into the fourth Harry Potter. You can’t bury your nose in Kindle or an iPad; it would bounce off the screen.
It’s not just me who has trouble getting wrapped up in e-books. Studies show that people who read new material off paper rather than screens, remember the information better in the long-term and understand it more fully. Books are thousands of years old, and, when it comes to actual learning, it looks like they still work better than the latest technology.
So I’m going to stick to my cumbersome, dog-eared, expensive stacks of glued-together paper. A little muscle strain and Scotch tape is worth a proper read any day of the week.