I realize that this less-than-bold statement would feel timelier if this was 2010. I also grant you that it overstates the obvious in the same vein as declarations like “puppies are cute” and “McDonald’s has really good fries.”
But that magical tablet just never ceases to amaze me.
Not only does it allow me to check my email, search the web, vote for the People’s Choice Awards and play Words With Friends… it houses much of my music collection and my entire digital book library.
The iBooks app has been the most life changing for me. I’d been listening to music on my iPod and mobile web browsing on my smartphone for years but, until seven months ago, I was a bit of a book snob who insisted on old school printed editions of my favorite novels. In hardback.
I used to carry a book in my man-bag at all times and would bring a couple of books with me on airplanes. No wonder I suffer from lower back pain. I bought a Kindle a few years ago but for some reason I never used it. This past year, however, I finally embraced the digital age of electronic books.
The first book I downloaded was The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats. I figured a poetry compilation would be a good way to dip my toe into this newfangled high tech way of reading, as I could jump in and out of it as I pleased without fully committing. It worked.
Suddenly I stopped buying actual books and became obsessed with reading everything on my iPad. I started reading on the elliptical machine at the gym (I used to just listen to music), on the subway (I used to just watch crazy people), and while waiting in line at Starbucks (which is weird because I don’t drink coffee.)
I devoured the novels that had been recommended by friends and family and trusted professional book reviewers: Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfield, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, Dare Me by Megan Abbott and Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. All of these I thoroughly recommend.
My friend Jeff had been bugging me for a couple of years to read A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. He insisted that I would love it and he was right. In fact, I loved it so much that I immediately went back to read her 2001 novel, Look at Me. My sister-in-law Robin assured me that I would love The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. She, too, was right. They know me so well.
I also tackled the new novels by some of my favorite authors: In One Person (John Irving), Telegraph Avenue (Michael Chabon), Back to Blood (Tom Wolfe), and Sweet Tooth (Ian McEwan.) I even went back and read a classic that I somehow escaped me in high school and college: Lolita.
Along with the rest of the world, I devoured Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Gillian’s an old friend of mine – we worked together at Entertainment Weekly and we’re both from Kansas City – so I was especially thrilled for her and the huge success of her third novel. Recommending the book to someone at this point is like telling a friend he really might like Adele’s album. Duh.
I’m currently in the middle of The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I normally prefer fiction over non-fiction, but this one is such a loving tribute to motherhood and literature, I can’t put it down. Ironically — given the fact I’m reading it on my iPad — it contains these lines:
“I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me. They may make me feel, but I can’t feel them. They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight. They can get in your head but cant whack you upside it.”
I hear you, Will. I do miss the physical and emotional heft of old fashioned books from time to time, but I still heart reading on my iPad.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfield