The ebook conundrum for a curmudgeon

I’ve grudgingly begun downloading ebooks from the library to read on my laptop. The libraries have been closed for the last (almost) three weeks, and it’s either ebooks or spending too much time on Facebook fighting with strangers over differing points of view that no one will change. Even though I much prefer to be curmudgeonly and read only paper books, downloading ebooks began looking increasingly necessary if I was going to save myself from becoming a fatality to Facebook insanity syndrome.

We’re in the third week of lockdown, which has now reduced from two weeks at level four to level three. Not a lot has changed with level three, although we can buy contactless takeaways, and some people can go back to work. Because I work from home, I work regardless of what is going on in the outside world. The libraries are still closed, though, and will only open when we reduce to level two. That means no paper books for me – at least not from the library.

However, it’s not only due to being curmudgeonly that I prefer paper books over ebooks. Paper books give a tactile and anticipatory experience that ebooks just don’t have. Not for me, anyway. But if they save me from the dreaded Facebook fate, I can do them.

Although I’m much too prudent with my money to buy mountains of books, I have been known to buy books that I have a slim to zero chance of reading, simply because books fascinate me. I’m drawn to bookshops and libraries like a moth to a flame. The best sightseeing tour I could think of would definitely have to include bookshops and libraries. Castles, famous artworks, historic buildings, gardens, and countryside all have their appeal, but are sadly an incomplete experience of a place if places of books aren’t included.

It’s only recently I’ve allowed myself to go full nerd about this. One of the pleasures of getting older is discovering our inner nerd, or ninja, and no longer knowing of a good reason to keep it under any sort of control. Perhaps one can even be a nerd ninja? Or ninja nerd? Whatever works. I remember as a younger woman giving my parents, especially my father, instructions about keeping his inner nerd and/or ninja under control around certain people of my acquaintance, which mostly comprised of a list of things he wasn’t allowed to say. It was touch and go, though. Mostly he couldn’t be trusted not to mortify his adult children.

I’m pleased to say that when the nephew gave me a similar instruction not to talk about ‘certain things’ around his esteemed ex-professor when we visited her, I was still able to have a conversation without mentioning those ‘certain things’. Seeing as she specially made us – i.e. me – a vegan lunch, I felt it was the least I could do. Actually, she’s just a very pleasant, interesting and easy person, so it wasn’t all that hard to find other things to talk about. Someone for me to model myself on, maybe, when I feel my filter slipping. See, Dad, keeping the inner ninja under control is possible, even for the likes of you and me.

Of course, if one has always been a bit prone to being somewhat of a square peg in a round hole, it may be best to just avoid people and read books. Paper books, that is. The kind that can be a bit wayward, as well, and have had who knows who else handling them, unlike well-behaved ebooks. Not sure if I’m beginning to sound a tad autistic there, or just have lockdown insanity syndrome.

Bring on level two lockdown, and the re-opening of the libraries!

*Header pic is not me, in case you’re wondering (which you probably aren’t), but that’s the pose I usually adopt when reading either paper books or ebooks on my laptop, so close enough, I thought.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

16 thoughts on “The ebook conundrum for a curmudgeon

  1. Thanks for this topic, Katrina.
    Our libraries, as well as most gathering places, are opening with wild abandon. I am one of the few who wear a mask, even though I have been jabbed twice with Pfizer. Schools are opening with the same spirit of wild abandon. The unvaccinated control the spread in all these places, of course, they represent the future dead and early dying.
    We have a couple of thousand actual books, some from the early 20th and late 19th Centuries. There is nothing that quite compares to the presence of a paper volume, their smell, and the sense of satisfaction that they bring. And it’s always a good idea to keep some handy — to ward off potential ignorance at the very least.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve had my first Pfizer jab, and am booked for the second one at the end of October. Roll out of the vaccines was a little slow here in NZ. I suspect it was because we weren’t considered a priority for supply.

      When you say that libraries and schools are opening with “wild abandon” does that mean that they shouldn’t be, but are taking their chances?

      I’ve come to realise – late, I know – that I need to start stockpiling books. What a hardship that will be 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant and really well written to boot. All those books, either e or hard, are doing you a service! Love the term FIS (Fb insanity syndrome), too. I’m probably going to steal it but will credit you, have no doubt. Hope you can rise up out of lockdown soon. Hopefully round four will not blossom into five. I’ve not heard of any new variants threatening us, so fingers crossed. Anywho, this was a fun read (although your blogs usually are!). Oh, and I’ve not forgotten that I promised to fill you in on the nitty gritty of my ‘big move’. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No need to credit me for the term, unless it fits with whatever you’re writing or saying to do so. I like the abbreviation, FIS, though – I might steal that one from you in return 🙂

      I’m looking forward to reading all about your big move, but I also realise that it’s a big ask when you’re in the middle of it all. If it has to wait until it’s done and dusted, and you’re actually there, then all good.

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  3. I have a Kindle and download ebooks with shameless abandon (and I mean abandon—there are a number of novels I haven’t even opened yet): but frankly the main advantage of the Kindle is that you can lug a virtual library of books with you when you travel, which I’m not doing these days. It’s also great for reading in bed since it essentially has its own lighting, but don’t fall asleep with it balanced on your stomach, unless you enjoy having a piece of hardware fall on your face. [Points to the black and blue mark on her nose.]

    That said, I love paper books too, and have a core collection that I will not part with, even after multiple moves across the country. Seeing a bookstore as I walk down a city street will lure me through traffic and crowds. Like you I don’t want to blow a fortune on them however, which makes the library useful. My local library unfortunately has a very limited inventory of books, thanks to budget cuts, so it necessitates buying the books I really want to read. But—without a return due date, I find myself not reading the books I bought! I think I became so used to deadlines at work and in grad school, I tend not to tackle tasks (including book reading) unless I know there’s a “freshness date” labeled on it. Given that I have very few deadlines these days, I need to change my habits, particularly when it comes to reading.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I totally acknowledge the convenience of an e-reader when travelling. They’re great for that – although I don’t have one yet – lol!

      For some reason, I also find it difficult to pick up a book that’s been on my shelf for a while and begin reading it. Maybe it’s the same ‘deadline’ thing you mention, or something about the thrill of a new book having worn off. Either way, I think I’ll have to start devising some mental tricks to change that. Perhaps I’ll put book the book in an inconvenient or in-my-face place until I’ve read it. That will be an irritation to my desire for tidiness, so might force my hand – or not 😄

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Re deadlines, I was told this is why some people join book clubs: setting a meeting with other people to discuss a book forces you to read it before the set date. Of course, with the pandemic, not many book clubs are meeting these days, unless they can find a nice outdoor site with plenty of fresh air. I also knew women who openly admitted at meetings that they hadn’t read the books but had come for the wine, treats and chatter. Which is fine, but it doesn’t help when you were chosen to lead the discussion and half the attendees hadn’t read the assigned book, or worse, are already on their second glass and barely able to do more than giggle and make bad jokes.

        I also quit several book clubs because I couldn’t stand their choices in books. While I support women’s literature, I really don’t want to spend what time I have for reading on bestselling domestic dramas and murder mysteries. I’ve had it with the married-woman-who-has-everything in the throes of a midlife crisis. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” was sort of the capstone for that genre; setting in the 21st century hasn’t improved it.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. A book club is good from the respect of making us read a book by a deadline, but they don’t suit me, either. Mind you, I only went to one, so that’s what I’m basing my prejudice on. I wasn’t much interested in the book under discussion, and most of the women (it wasn’t single-sex, but there were only women there) faffed around in the manner you described. That’s fine if it’s what suits them, but it didn’t suit me.

        I’m a fan of the mystery genre, I have to admit, especially if they’re set in non-Western countries. I try to support women authors, but they don’t always write the type of story I like. At the moment I’m reading an Inspector Chen mystery, by Qui Xiaolong, which is set in Shanghai in the early 1990’s .

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  4. Oh yes, same here. I’ve gone through the bunch of paper books I got from the library just before lockdown, and had to go to the local book box. Everyone else had the same idea and it was empty of practically anything except Dean Koontz. So now I’m downloading, which is ok…. philosophy 101 and physics for dummies (Carlo rovelli).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember when a boyfriend gave me my first and only kindle, back when they were semi novel. It was like the doors of the world’s biggest bookshop had been opened to me… I’m like, thanks, that’s wonderful, now go away so I can read for the next six months. I do love paper books but online has one huge advantage. You can access just about anything that’s ever been written. At the moment, between easy reads, I’m wallowing in popular quantum physics. Miss the library though, and the joyous covetous feeling of bringing home a bag of actual books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you’ve said. Online books have the huge advantage you’ve pointed out, and that’s a great asset now, but the physical enjoyment of books is another thing over and above the information or story entirely.

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