For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the power and the effect of words. From rainy Saturday afternoons to that mandatory hour (or three) before bed, nothing compared to falling immensely into the magical realm of a book. As I grew, so did my love and desire to read. There’s always this mental checklist people go through before they leave the house: wallet, keys, phone and cash. My list however, had one more item. Everything from Dahl’s creativity to Rowling’s lessons captivated me from cover to cover. For birthdays, there was nothing I’d rather have received than a stack of books. To me, my childhood meant the library, airports mean bookshops and holidays mean thrift stores. Every day, I glance at my bookshelf with the intention to make it through every single paperback on it, only to return from another holiday with yet another pile.
In fact, my love for books is so deep, I fear breaking its spine would disrespect it, folded page corners would disgrace it, and accidentally spilling something on it would deface it. It is for these reasons I unapologetically say a firm no to anyone who asks to borrow them from me. Taking Literature in high school and university was both the best and worst thing that could have happened to me in my academic career. Having to read for grades was a blessing, but having to highlight and annotate was pure torture. That being said, I’ve never passed a second-hand bookstore without walking through it first. That feeling of someone sharing their favourite book with you is almost synonymous with someone baring their soul. Thus, I was torn between wanting to be a part of someone’s literary experience and not fully appreciating it. Then came the 21st century.
In an era where everyone and everything is connected by technology, books are no exception. It was only a matter of time before someone designed a way to prevent people, avid readers in particular, from carrying heavy books everywhere they went. As much as one could love Hosseini and Rushdie, I’m not going to lie, it’s no easy task carrying their works along with an already heavy laptop and charger. For the longest time, I steadfastly refused to buy a Kindle; it felt like I was cheating on the hundreds of weekly literary relationships I had had in the past. And then it changed. Carrying Shantaram on the Tube was a mission and a half in London’s biting cold. It was time to invest yet again in one of the world’s man-made technological creations.
It took me a while to accept this new friend. It didn’t have that delicious smell of a book, it didn’t have that crisp sound of a turning page, and it didn’t have that wonderful tangibility of someone’s sleepless nights. However, with time, patience and a whole lot of Tube rides together, we clicked. It ensured me that the characters were no different on a screen than they were on paper. It gave me the satisfaction of starting something new immediately when the old was over. Most importantly, it taught me that words have the power to permeate beyond its source; it still had the ability to take you into a world that was created by somebody else, yet make you feel right at home.
It’s been almost a year now, and I’m proud to say, we’re still going strong. We’ve had our ups and downs: formatting errors, delayed releases and more commonly, some pretty off days. But like most relationships, we’ve learned the hard way and have powered through what looks like a long, adventurous journey together. On a side note, late nights have never been better; all I have to do is keep it charged.
“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” – Stephen Fry