In Defense of eBook Readers

kindle ebook reader

Anyone who has ever loved a book is pretty much aware of how sensory the reading experience can be.

As you try to make sense of the printed word, you also feel the texture of the paper and smell the pages. All this, as your ears pay attention to the sound of each page turn, the crispiness of the high-quality paper manifesting as your fingers suddenly and forcibly hits them, to the point of bending or even folding.

I myself have fallen in love with the whole experience and I can forever talk about how lovely it feels to have a date with a newly bought paperback on a rainy night. The cover, free from folds and wrinkles, can always be a great source of inspiration as if telling me that yes, I’ve got my shit together!

And oh, I won’t forget about those beautiful summer days when all I do is hop from one cafe to another while embracing a huge hardbound book. Its thickness and hardness give me assurance; they make me feel safe, especially as I enter crowded cafes where I worry about bumping into someone I know but don’t want to talk to.

Clearly, there is something truly special about the physicality of books and the comfort it provides. However, as much as I would love to just depend on actual books, I can’t. I also have to let eBooks and eBook readers into my life.

When I moved into E’s unit three years ago, it was almost free from clutter. Quickly, days passed, eventually turning into weeks and months. On my first year as one of the unit’s occupants, I had a realization: I was slowly turning the place into a jungle of books. They were everywhere–on the top of the table, on the floor, on the top of the dresser. Even some of the storage spaces originally intended for his sister’s stuff was already filled by them.

In my second year in the unit, we finally decided to buy a shelf to hold them. It was a bit taller than what had been originally planned, so at first, it still had a lot of free spaces. But just a couple of months into my third year as a resident there, I was already filling it with new titles.

It was when I considered owning a Kindle. I was hesitant a first, but with ample research, I was finally convinced. And so, I bought a Kindle Paperwhite from a local reseller.

The first book ever I read using this new gadget was Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. That particular reading experience had exceeded my expectations, so I easily fell in love with Kindle.

What I love about my Kindle

  • Adjustable backlight, perfect for night reading
  • Adjustable brightness
  • Wide variety of fonts
  • Adjustable font-size
  • Long battery life
  • Impressive memory capacity
  • Super portable
I have been using it for over a year now, and I’ve already taken it to a couple of travel destinations, including Baguio. I even endured an almost life-threatening boat ride to Mantigue Island in Camiguin with it, since I usually take it with me everywhere I go.

What about actual books?

I had already sold some of them before I moved to my new place in Quezon City. It was also partly because I just wanted to declutter and limit my possessions in general. But of course, I have still saved a couple of favorites, including some local books that aren’t available yet digitally.

Some all-time favorites have also been kept, regardless of whether they could easily be bought from local bookstores or not. These include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, and F. H. Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles. I’ve also saved my copies of Michael Chabon’s books, including Telegraph Avenue, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay, and Moonglow.

Of course, signed copies should also stay. These included a couple of books written by my professors and other local literary idols like NVM Gonzalez. The same goes for favorite local literary anthologies, as well as books on literary criticism. In short, all books by Gemino Abad, one of my favorites, have also remained on my shelf.

How do I know if I am getting an actual book or an eBook version instead?

It’s simple: I simply have to ask myself whether I’d be willing to keep it on my shelf or not, or if I would want to let it occupy some space in my new place. This way, I can keep my home from being taken over by books. And since I’m just renting here, I have to make sure that I won’t have a hard time transporting stuff to wherever I’d move to in the future.

I also have to consider reading time into consideration. If I am just going to read a novel in one sitting, not even keeping the possibility of a reread in mind, then I might simply go for the eBook version of it.

Therefore, owning an eBook reader is practical. While I can guarantee that holding an actual book is still the best thing a book lover could ever do, I also have to be honest that we, lovers of the printed word, also need to be more practical at times, especially if our circumstances demand us to be. In my case, I am forever haunted by concerns involving space and logistics.

I’ve also been trying to give mindful living a shot, so eBooks work so well with me. And, of course, let us not forget about the fact that one eBook reader could already contain hundreds of books. It’s light, portable, and it can easily save me from any awkward situation I would simply want to avoid.

(Photo by Olga Tutunaru on Unsplash)
Mina Deocareza

[Book Review] 'The Vegetarian' by Han Kang

the vegetarian han kang

"I had a dream."
This seemingly plain and simple sentence hadn't meant that much to me until I read this book.
This novella has three parts: The Vegetarian, Mongolian Mark, and Flaming Trees.

The Vegetarian focuses on Yong-hye, who decides to stop eating meat after having a nightmare. Her husband finds this sudden dietary change weird and even gets mad at her for her seemingly useless decision. He tries to get his in-laws involved, in the hope of changing his wife's mind. But his wife just won't change her mind; she just wouldn't have meat anymore.

In Mongolian Mark, we learn what happens with Yong-hye after a violent confrontation with the entire family about her being a vegetarian. Told from the point of view of her brother-in-law, this part shows how bizarre things have already become for the characters. It is when we finally realize that this story isn't just about the major change in Yong-hye's diet.

Finally, in Fire Trees, we get to know more about Yong-hye's sister, who is another important character in the story. At this point, her marriage has already been compromised. Yet, we also get a glimpse of how much she loves her sister and how she tries to stick to her till the very end. It is also where we get hints on the connection of Yong-hye's dream to their current realities and struggles.

This book is definitely a must-read. It is quirky and thought-provoking at the same time. I especially like how it is able to tackle some important topics like patriarchy, food culture, and sexuality. It also details sharp observations on modern society, as well as the changing nature of relationships between people.

(Image from Amazon)
Mina Deocareza

[Book Review] 'Wonder Boys' by Michael Chabon

wonder boys michael chabon
This novel is so close to my heart.

Besides the fact that it’s a book by Michael Chabon, an author I've been obsessed with these past few years, its story also focuses on a writer who, for seven years, has been trying to finish his latest novel.

I have to admit, though, that this protagonist can be really annoying at times. Known as Grady Tripp, this writer teaches at the university where he's also having an affair with the chancellor and occasionally flirts with a female student. It can be said that he still adores and cares for his wife, but he somehow can't stop doing stupid things. In fact, he even ends up impregnating his mistress (and oh, this woman has been married to another colleague from the same university). He's stoned and/or drunk most of the time, too.

However, there is something that makes him appealing, despite all his unlovable qualities as a human being and as a man. One of them, I think, is his fighting spirit as a writer and an artist. No matter how shitty things have been for him, he's still so keen on finishing his work.

I also like how beautiful his friendship with Terry Crabtree is. Sure, the guy is as fucked up as he is and their relationship isn't perfect, but what they have is really admirable.

Most importantly, Grady's character reminds me that no matter how difficult it is to produce art, particularly in the midst of everything bad and crazy when it comes to the realities we still have to embrace as writers and creators, things are worth trying. There will be tough times, of course; sometimes, we even have to just let go and start anew. But, we have to go on. For me, a young writer struggling to produce something that could be worth other people's time, this kind of hope means a lot.

And of course, I can't miss the fact that it also tells a lot about how fun life as a writer, especially around equally crazy writers, can also be. I'm sure, anyone who's been a part of a writing program or a community of writers can relate to this book.

(Image from Kobo)
Mina Deocareza