Calling all the book readers out there!
Have you ever come across articles, quotes or images that are repeatedly shared on social media and that are supposed to represent the ‘true reader’? They generally refer to ‘trivial’ things such as quantity of purchased books or the exaggerated reactions provoked by a good book.
If you love books, you probably agree with what they describe. Or perhaps, if you’re like me, you start questioning whether you’re really the book enthusiast that you thought yourself to be.
That is why I wanted to write about how books and the idea of reading are at times unnecessarily romanticised. I’ve rounded up 5 (just 5, because there are definitely more) common thoughts about books and I’m trying to challenge them with my point of view.
Don’t get me wrong: even I am prone to some fixations when it comes to books (for instance, I’m really into the aesthetics of shelving). So please consider this as a tongue-in-cheek post.
1. Books are taken everywhere… if they survive!
One of the most common images in the collective mind is that of a bookworm reading while on public transport or on a bench in a park. In fact, carrying books in the bag is often considered as a form of salvation for the reader; a way to kill boredom or to avoid the surrounding reality (although it might also serve as a conversation-starter, much to the horror of the introverted ones).
Sure, I love to read on my long bus commute – especially now that I need to constantly catch up with my scholastic readings. But actually I hate carrying books around. My bag is always overflowing with stuff and after carrying a book for a while, I always notice various bends on the cover and pages. It drives me nut so I often forget all about taking books with me. They’re safer at home!
2. They smell nice… if they are not old!
I’ve seen people expressing their love of books by taking in their smell. New books tend to have a particular fragrance which is hard to describe but that gives a sensation of… newness. On the contrary, old books smell disgusting, like something rotten. A smell that is generally disliked.
So yes, books stink, in one way or another. And honestly, I don’t care. Having a brand-new copy of a printed book is nice not just because of its smell of newness (at times I can’t stand that smell either) but because it feels like a prized possession. However old and smelly ones, as long as they’re still legible, are still worthy books. Which brings me to another point…
3. Used books might be icky… but they’re still very convenient.
By talking to other readers or by simply surfing on forums, I discovered that certain people do not purchase used books at all. As for me, if I’m purchasing a book for my personal collection, I prefer it to be a new, unused edition. For schoolbooks and other rarer finds, I’d rather go for a used copy. Why?
Firstly, it’s cheaper! Not only it is convenient, but it can also mean more possibilities to find the book that you want (like when Amazon runs out of new copies which are abundantly available through sellers at the marketplace). As I’ve already said, whilst still legible and taken good care of, books can be used and reused over and over. Let’s save all old and used books!
4. Local bookstores are precious… yet online shopping still rules.
I appreciate bookstores; they surely inspire us readers. They can be small and cosy or they can be colossal and awesome (or a bit soulless, if you ask me). They go through hard times but some are still going strong despite the threat from online stores such as Amazon, who everyone loves to hate for some reason.
However… I’m sorry shops. While I still love to browse your shelves and get lost in them, I still prefer browsing books online. It’s comfortable, I can build my virtual wishlist, and I certainly have a much wider variety where to choose from. And with websites such as Book Depository offering free shipping, how can I resist?
5. E-books are bad still books!
And here we are. The epic battle of this millennium: printed or electronic books? My answer: why the hell do I need to choose?
All right, some people do find it really uncomfortable to read an e-book and their reasons are plausible. But there is still this misconception of e-books being outright bad and worse than prints, which I think is unfounded. E-books have words (and images); sentences that make up a work of fiction or non-fiction that is still found in printed version. So why all the hate? I have much more to say about e-books, just click below to read.
Why E-Books are Actually as Good as Physical Books (Scrabbled Rambles)
In conclusion, there are no rules that determine whether one is a ‘true reader’ or not. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the form of books and the modes of reading. Anyone can also have a different kind of infatuation towards books. That’s what makes the world of readers so rich and diverse.
I am a slow reader; my frequency varies, sometimes going for months without a decent read, and I hate reading at night when I’m too tired to reason out things. Not fitting into the regular stereotype doesn’t make me a reader of a lesser kind. I feel bad (and ignorant) when I don’t read books but my eyes are always craving for words, so much that I even find fascination in reading commercials and junk mail. That shows me how much I love the craft of writing.
So let’s not be snobs; let’s appreciate this wonderful means of communication. Long live books, in every shape and form!