Digital vs. Harcover—A Booklover’s Dilemma

Hardcover wins in my book everyday (pun intended)!

I’ve been on a quest to read all the classics and there are still so many I haven’t read. What is it about books? I love old bookstores and could spend hours perusing the isles. When I was a young girl, I must have read The Velvet Room by Zilpha Keatley Snyder about a thousand times. It’s a story of a little girl who discovers a wonderful velvet room that becomes a place to read and dream, a place to bury one’s fears and doubts, a place to count on. It still sits on my shelf with its tattered edges and dog-eared pages.

In these days of people needing to “declutter” their homes, it seems more and more people are opting for reading books via Kindle or some other digital device rather than a physical book. A friend recently told me she would not buy any more books for that very reason.

Clutter? Books are not clutter to me. Books are sacred! I love everything about them their smell, their touch, turning a page.

Recently I was lucky enough to acquire a beautiful 3-set of someone’s cast-off hard cover copies of Ernest Hemingway’s; The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The only thing I’d ever read of Hemmingway’s was The Old Man and The Sea, as part of a required high school assignment, and I unwillingly trudged through the book telling myself I hated Hemingway’s work and never again glanced at one of his books. But that was then.

Now I greedily accepted these blue bound, gold embossed beauties reprinted in 1954, envisioning them proudly perched on the top shelf of my built-in bookcase along with all my other hard cover books.

Thinking them almost a status symbol, they remained on my shelf untouched, unread for almost a solid year until one day I noticed them again. It was as though they gleamed from their perch beckoning me to pull them out. And so, I did. One after the other I gobbled them up. I was amazed at Hemingway’s simplistic yet incredibly complex writing style. How does he do it? He is a master with dialogue—like nothing I’ve ever read. How have I evaded these works my entire life based on the opinion of a petulant teenager? I’ve always loved Charles Dickens and have read many of his books, having inherited an absolutely gorgeous collection of mini leather-bound editions that none of my other family members wanted. But those too remain mostly untouched behind my glass encased shrine of other untouchable books. I haven’t the heart to desecrate them with my oily fingers and only pull them down occasionally to take in their scent, and ever so gently turn a few pages.

I can’t fathom reading any book on a digital device. To me it seems sacrilegious. I will never think of books as clutter. Physical books are what feed not only my mind, but my soul.