The Joy of Reading Physical Books

Photo by Gülfer ERGİN on Unsplash

Several years ago, I decided to buy fewer physical books. My bookshelves had no more room, and I didn’t have any more space to put new bookshelves. Over the years, I have repeatedly culled books to make space for new ones, but I couldn’t do that anymore. I was down to books I couldn’t part with for one reason or another.

I started buying e-books & reading them on my iPad. That gave me eye strain, so I bought a dedicated e-ink tablet. That reduced eye strain and allowed me to engage with the text, but the device was slow and I didn’t enjoy the reading experience that much. I got a new iPad with a better screen. After spending some time figuring out what settings worked for me—screen brightness, typeface choice, and font size—I was able to read more or less without straining my eyes.

But I noticed that I wasn’t absorbing what I read as well as I wanted to. There’s a ton of data out there about how reading from a screen is not as good as reading a physical book. Like so many people, I thought, “Yeah, but I’m different.”

Yeah, I’m not.

I decided to buy a physical copy for my first fiction read of the year, The House in the Pines. I didn’t care for the book (I might write a review, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it), but I enjoyed the act of reading it. The feel of the pages, the smell of them, the sound of turning them, all enhance the reading experience. Also, I found it easier to go back when I wanted to confirm a detail I thought I’d read. My fingers knew roughly where to turn to. That doesn’t happen with e-books—and the search feature isn’t as useful.

I intend to read more closely this year and to keep more careful track of what I read. I might write about what I’m reading. That means I’ll probably read fewer books this year than last. But I’ll remember them more. I’ll enjoy reading more.

Meanwhile, I’m going to have to solve the problem of where to put them all. In this case, I have a book I know I’ll never read again. What should I do with it? And it won’t be the last one, either. Even books I like rarely get a second read.

I’ve found a website that buys used books I guess when I pile up half a dozen or so books that I’m ready to get rid of, I’ll sell them… and use the money to buy more books.