Living in the digital world is easy, y’all. Our world is founded on technology, and we’re always coming up with new ways to leverage that technology in our favor. I love having access to answers all hours of the day or night, learning and connecting within seconds. However, I’m also grossly attached to books.
I wrote a while back about downsizing as I was packing my place in Memphis and moving my life to Nashville. I can happily report that while I’ve made a huge cut in my collection of books and am down to 1 full bookshelf and a small 3-shelf case. This is huge coming from the 3.5 bookshelves I was rocking earlier.
Going to bookstores is my comfortable space. It’s just enough public to’ve “gone out” and “be social,” but there are rules about how you should behave, how loud to be, when to approach someone, and they serve coffee all day. I enjoy those social monitoring perks as well. I’m not going to comment on how my fail safe has been taken from me via quarantine.
However, bookstores create a problem for me as well: what about this really awesome book! You should totally buy this really awesome book! Oh, and it’s probably a series, a really awesome series of books! I wrestled with myself for about two months over this issue.
In 2018, after the love of my life broke my heart into teeny tiny pieces three days after Christmas, I bought myself a kindle for my birthday (This is a single-people staple: buying yourself your own gifts, take note). As I no longer had him to fill the empty spaces, I had to do something. Reading was an escape mechanism I used growing up, so I reverted to that tried and true method. I’d given up self-harm in 2016 and I refused to go back, so reading was my rediscovered god. I can always tell how unhappy I am by how many books I’d run through in a month (as a slow reader, more than two is astronomical for me).
I was skeptical at first, I felt some how I was going against my own values in turning the paperless leaf. This was a whole year before my downsizing episode, and now I sit in 2020 unable to be satisfied with a paper and ink novel. I’ve come to rely on my kindle so much that I’ve repurchased the same books I was wrestling over at the bookstore simply to have it in a consistent format, with backlighting, e-ink, and none of the weight or awkward wrist angles (re: “The Rise of Kyoshi,” a review to happen once it’s finished).
Needless to say, I’m a full convert within two years. I go to bookstores nowadays simply to see what’s new, look at cover art, and read intros. Anything I’m interested in purchasing, I send to my kindle. If it strikes me, I check it out at the library or buy right there on the kindle.
OH MAN! Don’t even get me started about the digital lending library! There are several big cities that you can be a virtual lender for a small annual fee. I’ve been looking at Chicago and Houston, they seem to have the largest libraries with the smallest fees. For now, my Nashville account offers me everything I need. It seems there’s been an underground push for ebooks and virtual libraries, I didn’t know anything about the whole digital library gig until just last year. It’s so easy, I just do it on my phone. I log in to my library account, search for my next read, and it it’s available I smash the download button. The site sends me to Amazon.com where I sent the book to my kindle. 20 seconds later, it’s ready to be read. There’s no late fee as the book returns itself in two weeks, and you can always keep it indefinitely by turning off the Kindle’s wifi. I’ve done this a few times to finish up the last couple of chapters of a book or two. What? I’m a slow reader!
You can also sign yourself up for the wait-list if all the copies are checked out. The library (mine, anyways) will send an email when the book is available, it’s so easy and wonderful. And to think, I used to have to order books from the main branch, wait for them to arrive at the local branch, pick them up in person, and get home just to read a thing!
I live by a simple rule now when it comes to reading materials that has helped my re-evaluate and stick to my downsizing commitments:
“Buy comics in atoms, buy books in bits.”
Also I’m poor, that helps, too I suppose.