It’s mid-summer and my dilemma du jour is this–which book to read next? Before heading off on vacation last week, I spent hours browsing and uploading books (or at least samples of books) onto my Nook. I didn’t really need to do that since our beach place had internet as well as books, but it’s part of my packing ritual. I need to head for the beach with a supply of books that will last me the week.
The ritual used to involve shoving a big bag of books into the trunk of the car, or for lack of space, sometimes under my feet on the passenger side, which meant that I rode to the beach in a fetal position. The bag of books was then fair game for anyone to read. There was some reading strategy involved with sharing a bag of books. Fast readers would not want to finish one book to discover that a slow reader had just grabbed the book they wanted next. It’s torture to watch a slow reader go through a book two pages at a time, with breaks for yapping or napping or dips in the ocean. They should read the dang book or hand it over to someone else.
With the Nook, I no longer pack a bag of books. I just load up the device. The advantage is a library in the palm of my hand (and space for my feet in the car). The disadvantage is that John has nothing to read. If someone wants to read my Nookbooks, he has to (1) own a Nook and (2) be my “Friend.” My mother is my “Friend.” And she owns a Nook.* My husband John is my friend, but not my “Friend.” And he has to share my Nook, which I am usually reading. So John loses out here, except for the fact that the beach place has boxes of real books in every room.
One thing I really, really love about my Nook, is that I can read in bed with the lights out. In the summer, this means that I stay awake reading into ridiculous hours of the morning and then am dead to the world for the best gardening hours of the day. I’ve been teaching longer than any of my high school students have been alive, but I confess that I revert to teenage sleep habits in the summer. All it takes is one captivating book, and my schedule is shot for the summer. This year it was The Hunger Games trilogy, most of which I borrowed from my son-in-law, who is my “Friend.” One night last week I got so caught up in Laura Moriority’s What Alice Forgot that I read chapter after chapter until the battery conked out at 3 a.m. If I had been at home, that would not have stopped me, since the charger is right by my bed, but the outlet was on the other side of the room so I took the lack of juice as a sign to call it a night. The next day on the beach I finished the book, with happy salty tears dripping down my already salty face.
Some people claim that one cannot read a Nook at the beach. Kindles are apparently better in sunlight. Actually, I can read the Nook at the beach. I set the screen brightness all the way up, sit under the umbrella for shade, and wear a baseball cap to provide more screening for my eyes. I can’t see the screen with my super-duper prescription sunglasses, just like I can’t read the clock in my car with them on . I could get some cheapie sunglasses, but the hat and umbrella work. My “Friend” Mom chose to read real books on the beach and her Nook at bedtime. I read whatever I had my hands on at the time, book or Nook. ( My Nookbook What Alice Forgot was followed by Jodi Picoult’s House Rules, which I found in a box at our beach rental.) Truth be told, a real book is best on the beach. It’s a tactile thing. Turning the pages with damp, salty fingers goes with the caress of the breeze on bare skin, sand between the toes, and the sound of the surf and laughing gulls.
I read three books last week and enjoyed each one. Now I’m addicted to days (and nights) devoted to reading. I’ll wean myself with internet research. I tasted an amazing cocktail last week. I must learn how to make it. Then I’ll have something new to drink with the next book I read.
*(For a detailed description of my mom getting her Nook, check the archives for February “In Which the Hipster and Hanny Go On An Outing.”