Writing

Why This Traveler Will Never Get an eReader

I will never get an e-reader.

 

No Kindle, Kobo, or Nook shall ever touch these palms. The weight of real books is not too much for me to bear. I will throw out shoes or souvenirs before I dare dream of ditching an unread book. I will zip up my backpack, so full of clothes and half-used toiletries and shake, shake, shake until there is room enough to slip in an extra story or two.

I will never get an e-reader.

 

Because I want to peruse book shelves not search engines. I want to know a place by the stories left behind. I want to know what part of the world I’m in by the authors lining the shelves. I want to find Keyes in Europe, Crichton in Asia, Coehlo in the Americas, and Dan Brown on every goddamn shelf on the planet.

I will never get an e-reader.

 

I do not want to choose the next book I read; I want it to choose me. I want to read books I’d never pick up on purpose, books that take me out of my comfort zone to other places and times and worlds and universes. Because that is why I travel: to be surprised; to have my expectations shattered.

I will never get an e-reader.

 

When the light outside dims and it is too dark for me to see, I do not need to continue reading. I will put my book away and dream of the many adventures ahead of me. (Or I will pull out my trusty headlamp and carry on with the story. I don’t need my book to glow on its own.)

I will never get an e-reader.

 

Because it is in my human nature to judge, and showing the cover of your book provides no easier method for me to do so. (But we will be friends regardless of what you’re reading, because you are reading and that is all that matters.) And when I check in to a new dorm and resting on the bed across from mine is a pair of tortoise shell glasses and a copy of On the Road, my heart will soar and for a moment I’ll plan our future together. (Or at least how I can be first in line when he finishes his copy.)

I will never get an e-reader.

 

Because I don’t need everything to be easy and at my fingertips. I don’t need to know the answer right away. I will write down the words I don’t understand and look them up later — or I will ask whomever’s around. I will highlight sections and fold down corners, because the corners of well-worn book are the surest signs of love (and the truest signs of love I understand).

I will never get an e-reader.

 

Because a dwindling bookshelf is the saddest sight in the world and I will not contribute to its demise.  Because leaving a book behind is like leaving a legacy.  Because someone else will find the stories I have loved and maybe they will love them too. Because when you happen upon that exact book you’ve been looking for, there is no greater magic. Because there is not enough in this world left to chance.

 

I will never get a—Oh, shit. Wait a minute… You mean there are almost no English books here? Like basically none at all? You’re saying my only options are The New Testament or Legends of Shannara: The Measure of Magic? Er, this is awkward…

Can someone send me an e-reader?

 

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