As I was packing up for a recent writing retreat, I was determined not to weigh my bag down with books, so I reluctantly dusted off my barely used e-reader and downloaded a few instead. I’m a longtime reader, and a writer by vocation, and I love real books now as much as I did when I was a teen. I love the feel of them, the smell, the weight, the way my eyes track and catch on the serif font as I read across the page then blink to hit the invisible carriage return to bring me to the next satisfying line. Sometimes I run my finger across the paper and trick myself into thinking I can actually feel the letters in bas-relief. So when I say reluctantly, I mean it.
Now I have to confess: there was something unexpectedly delightful about the stretch of e-reading I did on my retreat. During my time away, I spent my writing hours doing something I rarely do anymore: writing longhand in a hardcover notebook. And the movement from the “analog” experience of pulling a pen across the thick paper line after line, to pressing a tiny rectangular button to activate the slick, smooth screen of my e-reader was, I admit, pretty darn cool. I confess also to loving the function that allows me to look up a definition of a word with the light press of my finger (I’m not going to tell you which words they were—I have my pride), though I’ll never shed my oversized Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
E-books and e-readers aren’t for everyone, and when space on my nightstand and messenger bag allow for it, I will always reach for the real thing. In the meantime, though, I will finish the books I downloaded (see below)—and who knows, maybe I will keep my e-reader dusted off, just in case.
—Laura Didyk, Bookloft Bookseller
Bad Boy: My Life on and off the Canvas by Eric Fischl
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare