Confessions of a new (e)book lover

Contributor Amida writes for Journey into Unschooling

I used to love reading. One of my fondest memories in school was hanging out at the library during my lunch or break times with Judy Bloom and Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child, I owned very few books and the ones that I did have (Harry the Dirty Dog) were very precious to me. I even had discarded textbooks that I’d read over and over again!

So it was no surprised that I ended up as an English Lit major in college. What was surprising, however, was how that ultimately zapped all the fun out of reading! Jane Austen, Norton Anthology, Joy Luck Club… I hated it all. It was simply too much of a chore to read through and analyze selections that weren’t my choosing. In the end, I dropped the “Literature” and switched over to “Creative Writing”, which I found much more rewarding.

After I had kids, I rediscovered long ago forgotten stories and found joy in sharing them. I was reminded of how much I actually enjoyed reading. Unfortunately, with each child, I also found that I had less and less time to read my books, especially with the younger ones, who always ask for “just one more” story.

Through the years, I did manage to get in a few good reads during meals or late at night, after the kids had gone to bed, but it wasn’t until I bought an e-reader that my appetite was truly satiated. I must admit, I was skeptical at first and for weeks, only used my tablet to play games.

I’m for technology as much as the next person but by golly, I loved printed books and the feel of paper in my hands. Somehow, the image of one sitting in the dark and staring into the the eerie glow of a 7-inch device was synonymous with being a, well, loserHow could reading off a screen possibly give the same sense of satisfaction as reading from an actual book?

As it turned out, it did. I started slowly, with one book in digital form. That quickly led to another and another until I had burned through a whole series. My dear husband obliged in keeping me well supplied until I figured out how to input my own books. I started reading multiple books at a time.

Photo by kodomut

I stole many hours just reading in the dark while nursing my baby to sleep or snuggled under my covers just before bed. I discovered the convenience of slipping ten different books into my purse and pulling them out while waiting for my kids’ various classes to finish. I constantly put ebooks on hold at the library and delighted when a new title became available.

In just a few short months, I had burned through the Sookie Stackhouse novels, got inspired by Punky Brewster’s child rearing philosophy, was thoroughly entertained by Pioneer Woman’s writing style, and even reread the Joy Luck Club to see if I still hated it over a decade later (I didn’t).

The convenience of poring through multiple books at once allowed me to discover new subjects that I never would have picked up before. Who would have known science writers or medical exposés were so fascinating?

One of my favorite features of ebooks is the ability to instantly look up the definition of a word. I’ve learned thirty new words from my latest science book alone! Another convenience is being able to get new material without ever leaving home, a definite plus for busy mamas.

Before my first year’s love affair with my new e-reader was up, I had crafted not one but two nifty cases, published an ebook of my own (of my son’s stories), and undoubtedly read more than double the amount of books as the typical pre-tablet days.

Granted, I still love a good ol’ fashioned paper book. I keep a stack that I read during daylight hours at home. Come nighttime however, it’s just me and my ebooks until my eyelids droop. It’s my time to unwind and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Are you an ebook lover? How has your reading life changed with technology?

About Amida

Amida is the mom to three darn kids. She used to stress about state standards and test scores but has since come to her senses and enjoys blogging about her family's journey into unschooling.

Comments

  1. Funny how similar our stories are…I also loved reading when I was younger. I used to put a flashlight in my room so I could read under the covers or I would read by the light of the streetlight outside my room at night. I would read in the car, during recess at school…always. My love of reading started to fade even in high school as we got assigned (what I thought were) boring book after boring book. I still became an English major at one point, and actually enjoyed my first few lit classes. But, then I had to take a British Lit class where we had to read Chaucer and others in Old English and I totally lost interest and became a Communications major with an interest in rhetoric (analysis without the British Lit). I have just recently started reading again – and have found myself finishing the teen lit much faster than anything else. But, I have a long, long list of books to read. I upgraded to a Nook Tablet and love, love, love it. I am still behind a bit from my book a week goal for the summer (what was I thinking? I have a three year old!), but I am hoping to at least get half of that number in by the time I start teaching again in September! I have put the Sookie Stackhouse collection on my to-read list thanks to your blog…looks like something I will really like! Thanks for sharing!
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  2. I love books, all books. I prefer to read actual books, but having my nook is awesome as well. I think what appeals to me most is that I can download samples, and then I can figure out if I actually want to read the book. Oh, and the fact that I can borrow library books without leaving my house (which is helpful in the middle of the night when I am nursing!) is a big plus as well. Biggest drawback? It is too easy to buy new books…and I do it way too often :-)
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  3. I’ve been holding out on an e-reader because I’m such a hold the book in my hands fan. But I’ve heard great things from people who feel the same way about books but find their e-readers super helpful. I think it might be a good investment for if/when I find myself nursing a newborn.
    Steph’s latest post: A Week Without Daddy

    • Oh yes, nursing and an e-reader are perfect companions! I can just rest my nook on the side of a chair with no need to worry about it shutting, or trying to figure out how to turn the pages :-)
      Heather’s latest post: anniversary

    • When I first looked into getting a Kindle, I actually hadn’t plan on *reading* from it. I honestly just wanted to play games. But then I tried it and LOVED the convenience of it (especially when putting the baby to sleep).
      Amida’s latest post: So Happy Together

  4. We have a Kindle Fire and something that has been really helpful is reading to my seven year old in the dark while putting the 2 and 4 year old to bed. They doze while we read. I could never quite figure this out before I had an ereader. If a light was on the kids were jumping around the room and a book light was too much of a flashlight type distraction. It’s allowed my son and I a lot more reading time together.
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  5. I love my Kindle Fire but what I love even more is the Kindle app on my new phone. Now I can whip out a book at any free moment, I never forget my book cause my phone is always in my pocket. I am rereading the Bible in 90 days this summer and I have managed to stay caught up even on a vacation to Disneyland- a 45-minute wait in line, no problem, I have my Bible with me :)

    There are so many free books out there that I’ve bought very few books. I did buy all 14 Oz books for 99-cents the other night! What I can’t figure out is how to read in the bathtub… my husband doesn’t want me to take them in with me even though I haven’t dropped a book in the bathtub since I was 9. Oh well, I keep a small stack of paperbacks on hand for reading in the tub.

    I’m a full-time student as well as a homeschool mom so during the school year my time is very limited for pleasure reading (Spanish major- I knew better than to go the Literature route). But I can have my Kindle loaded and ready to go so as soon as finals are over I can read like crazy in between laundry and cleaning the bathroom and all the other things that seem to pile up during the quarter.
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    • nopinkhere says:

      I have a friend who puts her Kindle in a zip top plastic bag to read in the tub. I think I might double bag if it were me.

  6. Right there with you! I got a Kindle for Christmas 2011, and it’s taken me until last month to stop seeing it as some kind of technological evil – the Mass Murderer of the Printed Page. I’m *loving* how it lets me steal reading time for few chapters here and there!
    Angela’s latest post: Homeschooling Writing.

  7. Jenn R. says:

    I don’t know why it is so hard for me to let go of traditional books. I have read some books on my computer, and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it either. I do like reading non fiction on the computer. Being able to easily search my highlighted text, and like you had mention, looking up words is very efficient. I guess I’m about 50/50. Maybe if I get a Kindle, as opposed to my computer, I’ll be sold :)

    • I had that same thought — if I don’t like reading off the computer, why would I want to read off an e-reader? But, I gotta admit, it’s different. I still dislike reading off the computer but I wouldn’t hesitate to cuddle up with my e-reader every night. :D
      Amida’s latest post: So Happy Together

  8. I prefer real books, alas my bookshelves overflow. I especially like traditional books when I’m reading non-fiction. I like paging through to find the highlighted lines.
    Ebooks definitely have their place. I love that that they save me shelf space. My favorite thing is getting ebooks from the library and not having to go anywhere.
    Paula’s latest post: Top Ten Tips for the New Homeschooler

  9. Marie Jo says:

    Wow! We are not alone on this planet! I have been reading all my life. Once, when I was twelve, we went to a cottage for two weeks. In the first week, I read all eleven books I had taken at the library back home. My mom had to bring me to the grocery store to get more books (no library or book store in that town)… Later, I did a Bachelor’s degree in French Lit. I had to read 150 classics of French lit. in two semesters and then do an oral exam covering all 150 books!!! But it also turned me off reading for a few years. Then I started again. Like you, I now have an e-reader, and I LOVE IT!!! I read more then ever. I do like having multiple books in my purse, just like you, and most of all, I love reading in the dark. No light needed. I don’t even hold my e-book. I just place it between pillows and only lift my finger to turn the pages. I don’t know if all e-books have the night reading feature where you can have white letters on a black background? My e-reader has even helped me with my insomnia. As soon as I wake up at night, I start reading (something that will not keep me up all night — like the original Dracula… the action is soooo slow) and it keeps me from over thinking. I slows the wheels of my mind down and helps me fall back asleep. And the classics are often available for free to download from the Internet.

    Happy e-reading everyone!

  10. I know what you mean. I have actually loved reading. I can remember when I was very young and always had a book. My mother used to tell her friends that she was worried that I didn’t know how to play with other kids, sheesh. I had every disney classic and for gifts, family would get me things like entire classical book collections. My poor husband had to move my collection a few times when we were relocating. It took himself and three friends a few hours. It’s funny because it was actually my husbands greatest joy when I wanted to get an e-reader. It came as a gift for our anniversary, but it came with one condition, I had to get rid of a certain number of my books. I agreed, thinking it would be easy, I would be able to simplify a little and that’s a good thing right? It’s been about three years now and I think I got rid of one box of books. I realized that it was not just the words I loved but the smell and feel of well thumbed through pages. There is something about just knowing the exact page in my Steinbeck novel that I can turn to for my favorite story. I can’t get that from my e-reader. I love the sound of the flip of the pages. I love the way I can smile when I look at the cup stains on my favorite book where I accidentally set my water while half asleep in the wee hours. They are my bedside companions.
    On the other hand, I have well over 500 books on my e-reader, many of them informative and educational. But I couldn’t pass up the joy of reading The Call of The Wild and every single Sherlock Holmes novel I could get my hands on with my kids late at night. I got a tingle of excitement every time I found a classical novel for free and thought about how fun it would be to open up that particular world in my childrens’ imaginations. That isn’t something I could easily do with a regular book. For one, I am out of places to store new books where my husband won’t notice them. I don’t always have room in my budget for the paper books either, so I am really grateful when I can find the e book for a much lower price. But I think my favorite part is the same as the one touched on in the article, It’s accessible from anywhere, whether the doctor’s office, a busy day waiting for kids activities to come and go or just that quick moment when everyone somehow falls asleep and you can pop out the e-reader and enjoy a few more lines from Robert Frost or your recent gardening magazine. When it comes down to it, my e-reader doesn’t replace my books, its a beautiful addition to my growing collection.
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  11. I have been thinking about buying an e reader or ipod. I want to be able to listen to the Bible, podcasts, and etc along with reading books. What does everyone suggest?

  12. Shalonne says:

    Hi – I too use an ereader (mix between ipad and phone) for all my personal reading. I’ve been wondering though – is it good for homeschooling or kids recreational reading? I have two little ones – 3 and 5 – and I’ve found lots of nice electronic books, but I always find myself hesitating to read them, and going to regular books instead out of fear for damaging delicate eyes or brains maybe. I’d love to know what others think?

    • For that age, I would choose the actual picture book over the e-book any day. I think the read aloud is best experienced flipping actual pages and holding the book together. My older kids read from it, though, and that is fine with me.
      Amida’s latest post: So Happy Together

  13. I have become an e-book reader, so has my oldest daughter, out of necessity. No English library books where I live. I would be in a tough place without e-books.
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  14. Totally love my e-reader. Love having heaps of books hanging out in my bag, whenever we stop somewhere, I read a couple of chapters of something. I used to read quite a bit and now I read masses… I still live and adore real books but an e-reader enables me to grab heaps of great free books… and read prolifically without lugging books everywhere… I can’t imagine life without e-books anymore!!!
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  15. Sally Adams says:

    Someone asked about a read feature…I think the Kindle has the feature where it will \”READ\” you the written book when you can\’t be looking at it, like stuck in the car in traffic or whatever. The \’voice\’ is a tad mechanical sounding…not like an actor reading an audiobook, but it does add a certain versatility. My cuz has the Kindle that reads to you. I like my little simple NOOK that is easy to read in the bright sun of the beach and no \’buttons\’ to get sand in. Beats paying for an additional bag with a doz or so books packed in it!! These are the only 2 E readers I am familiar with at all. Perhaps there are other brands that will do this. A starting point, however.

  16. Sally Adams says:

    Oh, also, there are many free book sites out there. I think PROJECT GUTENBERG is one that has all the classics, as well a lot of other free books. With my NOOK I can go to the B&N site or my NOOK itself and type in a genre with the cost of 00.00 after it, which will bring up all the $00 cost books. (i.e., MYSTERY 00.00). There is probably something similar with the other brands.
    Another tip is, if you are out in the library or book store and see a book you are interested in, take a photo of it with your cell phone. It’s a quick and easy way to “note” a book you may want to check for later in a quieter moment. I remember those busy days when the kids are keeping you busy. Never thought I’d like the Ereaders either but really do, for all the reasons mentioned. You should see all the Ereaders pop out amongst the people waiting at the light rail station. I don’t know what is more abundant! The cell phones vs the Ereaders! LOL!

    • Sally,
      I look for free games everyday but it never occurred to me to look for free books through amazon. That is a great suggestion and one I will definitely be following today! (I’ve only just recently discovered I had a load of music on my cloud drive — slowly learning!)

  17. I borrowed a friend’s Kindle last summer and was surprised to find that I LOVED it. For all the reasons that you listed.

    One day, I’ll buy an e-reader of my own. For now, the library will do. ;)

  18. I really am a book junkie I used get upset if I finish a book and can’t get a new one. So my kindle is perfect just a few taps and the next book is on its way. Don’t get me wrong I still have plenty of books the yearly library sale keeps me well stocked but the kindle is just convient.

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