There are two kinds of people: Book People and Not-Book People.
Book People always have something to talk about. They are happy to talk about genres, characters, favorite authors. They are happy to talk about quotes, even if you have not read the book the quote came from. Book People will talk to you about it anyway.
They are rarely bored, Book People. They don’t mind being alone, because their world is full of at least a million people. Some of them are villians, some are just quirky, funny people. Much like the Book Person themself.
Many Book People are hooked on the experience of going to a bookstore, looking….looking. Walking up and down the aisles. Seeing a catchy name on the spine of a book, always checking out the table of New Arrivals. Always checking out the table of Clearance Books.
When a Book Person finds the book that they want to purchase and take home, it’s like falling in love. It’s an emotional, as well as an intellectual experience. So they take it home, and they go through whatever ritual they have for Starting a New Book.
For example, I hold it up and I smell it. My hands caress the cover. I gently open the cover, and begin to open the pages, stopping to visit on the Title Page, gleaning information from there; moving on to the dedication page, perhaps pausing to wonder — if the author hasn’t clearly stated — who the person of dedication was, and what they had done to earn such a lofty place; and I am finally at Page One, be it Prologue or the actual start of the story.
I’m not quite sure what Non-Book People do. This has caused the occasional social problem for me.
I remember asking a gentleman, as one does, “So what are your hobbies, what do you do?” And he asked me about mine. I told him I liked to do this and that “…and Read.”
“Oh, yes! Everything, history, novels, nonfiction of all kinds, really. What do you like to read?”
“I don’t read.”
Silence. I found myself saying the well-worn Book Person response: “well you must read something. Do you read the newspaper?”
“I read the sports section.”
“Do you read….”
“I’ll make this easy. I really Do Not Read. Not novels, or history, not the telephone book, or the newspaper — but I do occasionally flip through Field and Stream.”
I realized right then that this first date was not going any further. I pled a terrible headache, left and went home, to get out the book I was reading at the time.
I spent a lovely evening with my good friends in the book, and quite forgot about Mr. Does Not Read. The friends in my book were much more interesting.
When I got the idea to write this blog, it occurred to me that I truly don’t understand Not-Book People. They have the right not to read. And they seem to be of at least average intelligence, and happy, good people — the few I have met. I just don’t understand how you can do that. Or, Not do that.
Along the journey of my life as a Book Person, I then discovered Kindle. When I was first introduced to Kindle my initial reaction was: there’s no smell. There’s nothing to really hold or caress. How will you remember what you read, without a real cover, without real pages to touch? I said, “No, not for me, thank you.”
About a year later, a friend — a Book Person, certainly — was over visiting, and she was going on and on about Kindle and how wonderful it was. So I asked her to introduce me to this newfangled Reading Friend, Kindle. And she proceeded to open her Kindle, show me a little about how it worked; how easy it is to read, because you can control the Font Type and Size, and you can read it sitting in a darkened room, because it is backlit. You can read it anywhere, anytime, and not bother people. Better yet, you can take it anywhere, and no matter how long the book is, how many pages, how many chapters, the Kindle always weighs the same.
This was big for me, because I have a problem with my left shoulder, and sometimes holding a regular book caused me pain. At night when I read — I can read all night, when I’m being my insomniac self — my shoulder and hands would get tired. But maybe, not with a Kindle.
I purchased one. Then Book People — My People — started to give me a hard time for reading a Kindle instead of a “real” book. I wasn’t — couldn’t be — really a book person, after all. I was shocked at those responses, but thought to myself, “they can do what they want to do, I will do what I want to do.”
There are so many features on the Kindle that, for the money, it is so worth it. And I won’t belabour the point, but because I don’t like unorganized things, I now have categories of books within the Kindle. One for art, one for history, one for general nonfiction, biographies. I have one for spirituality, and of course, fiction.
The bane of the lives of every Book Person is that there are only so many bookcases you put in your home. Even in a mansion, there are only so many books you can put on the shelves. Kindle can hold thousands.
I have six bookcases, all packed with books I love, but I read on the Kindle most, I think. (If nothing else, Kindle makes it easy to find related books, or the next book in the series. And you don’t have to go to the bookstore in terrible weather, or wait until it opens the next morning. And you don’t have to carry a dictionary with you.)
So, I am a Book Person, and I have a Kindle. I love my Kindle. But, you ask, do I still go to bookstores?
Every. Single. Chance. I get. As often as possible. Because, as much as I appreciate all the Kindle does and helps me do, there is still nothing like picking that book up for the first time; smelling it; caressing the cover; and starting to turn the pages into another land.