Every birthday and every Christmas of every year growing up had me placing books on my gift lists. And books I got. After blissfully sweeping my hands across the glossy cover, what was the first thing I did? Crack open the book at random and plunge in my nose for a deep, invigorating sniff. It’s not something you need to explain to any book lover. They’ll instantly relate.
Years later, I’d no longer be drawing up gift lists, but occasionally my parents would still ask me: can we get you this? Or: would you use this? For my 31st birthday, one such question was: can we get you a Kindle? Well, actually the question was: what do you think of Kindles? But since it was around the time of my birthday I knew why they were asking. I answered somewhat in the negative. I can’t remember what my reason was for not wanting one, but it was clearly so stupid, I’ve forgotten.
Together with my brother and his fiancée, my parents bought me a Kindle. Six years later, I still have it and treasure it: not least of all, because it’s the last birthday gift my brother ever bought me. I treasure it so much, I rarely take it out the house, which is silly of course because it’s the practical solution when travelling. But now I have the app too, so should I get through the three or four heavy tomes I insist on lugging with, I can just hop onto my phone.
Besides, there are other upsides to a Kindle beyond mere practicality while travelling. Books tend to be cheaper and there’s a massive selection to choose from. In 2018, I embarked on a challenge to read a book from every country in the world and my Kindle has been a great help in finding books from small and often-unheard-of countries that don’t have a great abundance of literature translated into English.
For a time, I thought there was an environmental advantage too, which is always a great boon for me. But depending on how much you read, the environmental impact differs. It’s a pretty complicated scenario, but from what I understand the more you read the eco-friendlier a Kindle, or eReader, is. If you’re not a frequent reader, print books are the better environmental option.
I may buy fewer physical books, but I certainly won’t stop buying them. They’re such an intrinsic part of who I am, no house of mine would be a home without a bookshelf standing as testament to my literary passion and devotion. And shopping at independent and secondhand bookstores also means lowering your carbon footprint and supporting local businesses. There’s also nothing quite like popping into a bookstore for a leisurely browse with no knowledge of what you may find and walk out with or pulling an old copy off your shelf, plunging in your nose, and inhaling its comforting scent.