Many of you who know me well -- and many of you, too, who don't know me well -- know me enough to realize that books are my passion. I have been reading voraciously since I was seven years old. A sickly girl growing up in a large farm, I grew up with books. My childhood saw me staying up late in bed with a flashlight (which probably accounts for my miserable eyesight now), spending summer afternoons up in the mango tree with a cushion and a book, and mostly just always reading, even at family reunions. Books were my vehicles to the much larger world outside. That's how I traveled then, with my mind, within the comfort and safety and relative consistency of my own little reading nook. Very early on in my life, books were already my security blanket.
As I grew older, that didn't change. Over time, my own collection of physical books number about 800 actual books. Most of them are still on display in the bookshelves of my Makati apartment, although a lot of them are stored in plastic boxes as well, for lack of shelf space. (These plastic boxes also function as furniture. I stacked one on top of the other, draped a tablecloth over them, and they are now my bedside tables. Now I can claim that my books are my bedside tables, in a way.)
It's not just the concept of books that I love and need. it's the actual physicality of them. Their history, their components, the covers, the pages, the spine, the printing, the parts. I cannot live without actual books, with paper pages I can flip through, and actual ink that I can pore over, and actual spines that I can see lined up on my shelves, and peruse, and caress from time to time, whenever I feel lonely and lost.
When the Kindle first came out, I did not warm to the idea at once. I did not like the concept of reading a digital book. I still preferred actual books, of course, and being the old fogey, I resisted the idea for years. Even when some of my oldest professors have shifted to the Kindle, using their failing eyesight as an excuse, I did not budge.
Until a year ago
I purchased the Kindle Touch directly from Amazon just before it was phased out, to make way for the new line of Kindles.
And right from the moment I unpacked it, I fell in love with it!
Here it is beside a book that Mr. T, gave me months before I bought the Kindle, and which I had just finished reading at the time. And while I will always love physical books with their endearing parts and elements, I have a new love for the Kindle.
Because it was light, it did not look as high-tech as I thought it would, and it could carry Proust! And all of Dickens! And War and Peace! and Game of Thrones! and all Stephen King books! And Alain de Botton! And Umberto Eco! And Italo Calvino! All together, in just one small, light gadget, that even had a gorgeous leather case with a built-in LED light! And it still looked like paper! I wondered how I was able to live without it for as long as I have.
It's now what I carry around everywhere I go. Now it's not just a book or two, but an entire library. It will never trump actual books in my heart, but it sure beats bringing around the unabridged edition of The Adventures of Don Quixote of Salamanca.
And that is why I now have twelve thousand titles for my Kindle.