For the Love of Stories (and My Kindle)

I recently had a short discussion with Facebook friends about a Weezer song (“I Want You To”). I don’t quite understand the ending: Is he telling her they’ll face their defeat side-by-side? Or is he telling her to go because he wants her to be happy, although it’ll make his own heart blue? Why do I care? Because I like the story told in the lyrics, but I can’t decide how I feel about it at the end. Then someone pointed out that it’s Weezer – their songs never make sense (read: “Buddy Holly”) but they rock, so who cares?! Okay, point taken.

But this discussion, along with the heated debates about physical books versus ebooks and ereaders (Kindle, Nook, etc.), led me to realize why I heart my Kindle so much.

I love stories. I enjoy reading them. I enjoy watching them played out in movies. I like listening to them in songs. Whatever the medium, I take pleasure in the story itself. So I guess I don’t really care if I’m physically holding a book in my hand or if it’s digitized within my Kindle.

Don’t get me wrong – I have a certain appreciation for real books. Bookstores are my candy shop. I love walking through the doors and seeing all those beautiful covers with pretty, eye-catching covers vying for my attention. I love the feeling of coming home with a new book and cracking it open for the first time to drink in those exciting, shiny-new words on the never-before-touched page. I love how pretty they look on my shelves.

But once I let the story draw me in and I’m lost in a new world, what I’m holding in my hand no longer matters. Because I’m blissfully immersed in someone else’s world and life, living vicariously through their adventures. I’ve left this physical world, escaping from all its real-life issues and stresses.

Unless the pages start turning of their own accord because the book won’t lie flat. Or my arms get tired when lying on my back because the book’s heavy. Until, when reading while eating – which I do often – I slurp my spaghetti and tiny red drops spatter on the once pristine page (a cleaning wipe takes care of this on the Kindle – not so much on paper). All of these little annoyances pull me away from the story. And they ruin my once beautiful books because I’m staining the pages or cracking the spine to make it easier to read.

I saw a tweet on Twitter (I don’t remember who originally said it, so I’m sorry I can’t give credit) that was something like, “A real book is to an ebook like a man is to a sex toy. Both get the job done, but the first is more sensual.” I personally don’t get the analogy. A book and an ereader are both inanimate objects, quite different than a man versus a toy. I don’t quite feel the sensuality of holding paper, glue and ink anymore than I do holding a Kindle. Because it’s the storythat’s sensual. It’s the characters and their emotions and actions that give it life. It’s the setting and description that take you to another place. If the author has done his or her job well, you shouldn’t even notice the world around you – including the object in your hands.

Some avid readers hold an undying love for physical books – the texture, the weight in their hands, even the smell. It’s a personal decision and even a situational decision. Fortunately, I think we’ll have both options for quite some time, and if the physical book ever does become obsolete, it will be with a generation who never held a book in its collective hands to even know the difference.

P.S. If there areany books (not the stories – the books) that caress your skin, wrap themselves lovingly around you and tell you you’re beautiful…now that I can understand! So, where do I buy them?

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