Relationship with books

To complement the account of my fantasy relationship with music listening, I wish to reflect on the reading experience.

I have a cyclical relationship with book-reading mediums. As many serious readers, I heavily prefer a paper book to an electronic variant. My relationship with an electronic reader varies from tolerance, to exhaustion, to irritability. When I’m mobile for long time periods, having constant access to a paper book proves rather challenging. I may initiate a journey with a paper book, which, once finished, I dispose of and exchange for another, either at hostel book exchanges, book stores, or book fares. This routine makes it difficult to always acquire a book I’m inclined to read and in the desired language.

The paper-book stage generally lasts from a few months to a year. Then I become irritated with not having access to the precise literature that I need. At this point I revert to my electronic reader. On this device, I can effectively find anything I desire in any language. I read obsessively, one book after another (exhausting a lot of time that maybe could be used more effectively), to the point of exhaustion of continuously interacting with the digital medium. I then abandon the electronic reader for the more authentic, although less predictable paper-book reading experience.

I adore paper books. Reading one compared to an electronic version results in a difference in experience very similar to that between an LP player and a Spotify playlist. Lately, I’ve reached another transition point in the cycle, being on the verge of abandoning the electronic reader and re-embarking on the paper book hunt.

I can think of one way to mitigate the paper book challenge while travelling - resort to longer, more challenging novels - something to the likes of Ulysses, Moby Dick, or War and Piece. I’ve been yearning to read these for some time, and the process could easily consume many months of gradual, mindful reading.

As a bonus, a paper book facilitates one of the most natural conversation starters, which I’ve frequently relied upon to engage real world characters.

My favorite aspect of living in a permanent city, the last of which was Chicago over two years ago, was having full borrowing access to a library. Alas, I’ll have to make due with acquiring books by other improvised means.