I’m one of the few lucky people in the world who grew up to be exactly what they wanted to be. When I was little I wanted to write books, draw pictures and be a teacher. And that’s what I do for a living - not in exactly the way my little mind envisaged - there’s a fair bit more fabric involved than I ever could have guessed. Having written 14 quilting books I still have the flame inside me to write more, and the ambition to write a novel, and a children’s book. One day, one day.
I believe that tiny me wanted to be surrounded by the tactile most of all. It’s the paper and the pencils and the physical feel of the thing that is what I like. If I close my eyes I can still feel my Mum’s rippled writing paper under my hand, the lovely sound the cardboard box made when you lifted the lid, and hear the lush rustle of the butcher’s paper rolls unfurling over the floor. I love the scratchy sound a sharp pencil makes when you write, and the brush it makes when you sketch. I love writing with a good biro on thick paper, the way it sinks in slightly and leaves a dent.
All of which leads me to the reason for this rambling reminiscence. The other week on Instagram I posted about the books I have read so far in 2021. I don’t read nearly as much as I would like at the moment - life, Covid fatigue, mental health, work and screens have all gotten in my way. I made a pact with myself that this year I would read 24 books in 12 months - I’m a little behind, but I’m getting there. Anyway, the photograph of a physical book I showed led to a bunch of people telling me about e-readers and audiobooks (which I did know exist!), and asking why I don’t use them.
I find this a fascinating subject. Be very clear - I’m an author, I’m from a family of authors - I don’t personally care how you consume your books, as long as you consume them! Books are VITAL, books are the open window into learning about other cultures, other people, to discovering tolerance and to widening your mind and your heart. Books are education and entertainment. If you want to listen to them rather than read them, or read them on a screen, I don’t have any preference nor judgement for that.
I encourage people to engage with books, no matter how they do it. For me personally, however, I have no interest in another electronic entity in my life. I listen to podcasts while I sew (I’m a true crime junkie and a Murderino, a West Wing Weekly freak and a history buff), I watch a fair amount of TV while I hand sew, I am on my phone too many hours a day for both personal scrolling and social media and emails for work. Life is loud and brightly lit in 2021.
There is nothing more wonderful than a bookshop. I love the smell, I love the rows of spines, the cover design, the children’s section, the new releases. A good bookshop is the most wonderful thing - a good bookshop owner is even better. I have been lucky to have some wonderful local bookshops in my life - big shoutout to Libby at Beachside Bookshop, my current favourite local!
However, even though we are locked in here in Sydney at the moment I have no temptation to download an e-book. I have an Audible account and I mostly use it to listen to the Harry Potter series for the 22nd time in the background while I’m doing something else. I read paper books because of their weight in my hand. Because of their physical and comforting presence. Their smell, and the sound it makes when you turn the page. How, when you finish a really good one and close it, you sit with your hand on the back cover wishing you never read it so you can start it all over again like new. How you can rove along a shelf , lift one out and give it to a friend.
A paper book never runs out of batteries or needs recharging. It never glitches or flicks through too many pages. A paper book is a solid and reassuring reminder to take time for yourself, sit down and disappear, even for a few moments.
I hope my ramble gives you some insight into my disinterest in e-books. 😀 I completely understand that others don’t feel the same.
This isn’t written to force you all to fling your Kindles into the sea. I just found it a really interesting topic that lots of people seemed incredibly passionate about for one side or the other. The discussion took my fancy so I chanced a few words.
I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a comment or ask me a question below. If you’re interested in reading a bit more about paper books vs e-readers vs audio books, this article from Time Magazine in 2018 is a good one - it’s not for or against, just interesting.