My Internal War Between Bookworm & Geek

It’s almost Turkey Day and along with millions of other Americans, I’ll be getting on a plane next week to go participate in the act of thankfulness with my loved ones…and you know, my family too.

My suitcase sits empty with anticipation on my bed, and my folded laundry fresh from the dryer is neatly stacked beside it, ready to be squashed and stuffed to the point where I can zip the bag and check it through to my final destination.

That’s for my clothes.

The real packing conundrum of my life is on my couch, and it’s considerably more important than paltry considerations like underwear and sweaters thick enough to act as a coat if the mercury falls below freezing during my trip.

That conundrum is my purse and what I’m beginning to think might be an unreasonable pile of books.


You see, this is where I have an identity crisis between my bookworm self and my geek self.

On the one hand, an e-reader would actually be a sensible and probably healthy purchase for someone like me for the following reasons:

  • I travel regularly.
  • I’m usually reading more than one book.
  • A lot of the time, at least one of those books is ridiculously large or comically small making it a packing challenge.

Read between the lines up there and you’ll notice something you had probably made an incorrect assumption about before. That’s right, I do not have an e-reader.

No Kindle. No Nook. No fancy shmancy iPad.

If I want to read a book or a comic digitally, I have my iPhone, but to be honest, the screen is tiny, which makes any kind of dedicated reading rather tiring on my eyes.

The bookworm in my brain curls up comfortably in her chintz & doily’d arm chair with her mug of tea and cat to warm her feet. She nods majestically and says “Quite right!” when someone agrees that she has no need for one of those new-fangled contraptions.

The geek in my brain has been plastered, nose squashed, to the glass of an imaginary Apple store since the day the iPad was announced, drooling uncontrollably and sobbing to anyone who will listen about how much she needs the Precious.

It’s really rather heartbreaking.

I love the smell of books. I love the feel of the paper under my fingers and the satisfaction I get from watching my progress through a long novel as I see the pages held in my right hand gradually decrease from an inch or two to almost nothing over the course of my read is great.

But my shoulders? My back? They do not love the imaginary bookworm in my brain. They like to side with the geek and whine to my subconscious about the possibilities of carrying my whole library with me on a plane.

“Think about it Rachael,” they whisper. “You would never be without something to read. Your hand would never ache from the weight of that hardback you just couldn’t resist. You wouldn’t get paper cuts.”

They have some pretty convincing arguments.

That being said, until I’m gainfully employed, have paid down my credit card and can drag the bookworm from her chair in my brain with the promise that she can still curl up in it with the tea and the cat and a shiny new e-reader, I’m just going to have to resign myself to the following:

I cannot squeeze 1Q84, Breakfast for Champions, Welcome to the Goon Squad, 6 comic titles, my journal (I’ve been writing again) and my laptop into my purse for this flight. It’s a big purse but not that big.

And sadly, unless human societal conventions change between now and Tuesday, I will need the underwear and sweaters, and thus cannot simply stuff my suitcase with my books.

I’ll just have to leave some of my books at home.

Image Credit Joseph Robertson’s Flickr

  • Jeff Estep

    I want an iPad so bad! I specifically want it for reading my comics and watching NetFlix in bed. I blame my iPod Touch for getting me hooked on touch screen gizmos. Nah…who am I kidding? It was seeing tablet PCs on The Screen Savers about 10 years ago that did it!

  • Erin Miuccio

    I had the same delima for a long time, but I believe I have finally found the balance. It is possible to have the best of both worlds, real books and a nook/kindle/iPad!
    First off, Christmas is just around the corner, and Nook and Kindle both have options that are perfectly reasonably-priced present suggestions. 😀
    Secondly, once you have one, you will love it forever, but you will still be able to love real books. I know from experience. I consider my nook a shelf-space saver, as well as a travel buddy. This is because I read books on my nook first. Then, if I really really like it, I buy a nice hardcover to page through on my evenings at home, soaking in the smell and feel of the paper.
    The other nice benefit is that you can still borrow books from the library, whether real books or downloading them onto your e-reader. I’m a girl on a budget and have no problem admitting that I cannot afford my reading habit. lol
    Anyway, embrace our ability to enjoy both worlds! You won’t regret it. :)

  • Liz Haebe

    I have so many books that I need new shelves just to store them all. I know how you feel…I want an e-reader too, but love the way books feel and I love to crack a spine! Some day. I always said I’d never have an iPod and now I’d die without mine. Oh, and might I also recommend you taking ‘A Visit From The Goon Squad’ for your trip? That book was sublime.

  • Elisabeth Miller

    I resisted an e-reader for a long time. I recently got a Kindle as a gift and while I still prefer the reading experience had with a tactile book, it has proven to be useful. The fact that I can read, for free, any of the classics, is a total pull (and the two books that I’ve read on the Kindle have been classics). It sounds like you’d really benefit from one, given your traveling and multiple book reading (I’m a one book at a time girl).

    “I love the smell of books. I love the feel of the paper under my fingers and the satisfaction I get from watching my progress through a long novel as I see the pages held in my right hand gradually decrease from an inch or two to almost nothing over the course of my read is great.” – But this? This is exactly why I will always have books.

  • Anonymous

    I had the same dilemma when I was considering buying an eReader! I bought one though, and absolutely love it. While I enjoy having a book to hold, and the feel of the pages and binding, it has become really convenient to have my eReader. I don’t buy books often anymore (easy on my wallet). I don’t have to worry about due dates or renewing at the library (though I go there to scope out new books to read sometimes). I can bring my eReader anywhere; mine is so slim and light! I balance my love for physical books by buying the books I absolutely love. If all technology goes haywire, I’ll still have those beloved books! It’s a good thing I’m not buying as many books anymore though, I have hundreds of them, to a point where I have to hide some at my friends’ houses because my parents threaten to donate them all.

    One note about the type of eReader to buy though…I really wouldn’t recommend the iPad as an eReader. The LED backlight shoots light back to your eyes, which really causes eyestrain if you plan on reading hours at a time. My Uncle and my Mom both bought an iPad with the hopes of using it as a reading device but then realized the uncomfortable reading and have since passed it down to their kids ( :) great way to “get” an iPad by the way) or use it only for watching movies or other misc. apps.

    I’m not trying to persuade you to buy one, I just wanted to share my story with you :) I thought I was betraying the classic reader in me by considering using technology and no longer turning to hard books…but I’ve realized that it encourages me to read so much more!

  • Emily Koenig

    I really hope you took A Visit From the Goon Squad. Also, fight the eReader. I’m 95% bookworm and really love the publishing industry.

  • Alycia Lourim

    I will be anti e readers forever. Sure it may seem convenient but nothing will ever take the place of holding an actual book plus I don’t want printing companies to go out of business. I love owning a library and having a book with its true cover art. It is what makes it so. <3

  • Melanie Mccauley

    DON’T DO IT! Haha. Reading this was a total flashback to last November, when I convinced myself that a Nook was the right thing to do. I LOVE to read, and, even more, I LOVE the look/feel/smell of books. But I was seduced by the nook lady at Barnes and Noble with all of her shiny demonstrations and fancy page turning. So I blew all of my recently acquired birthday money on a Nook, thinking that it would be the coolest thing ever.

    Since then, I’ve used it about seven times. If you are a true book lover, an e-reader will never be able to truly satisfy.

  • Kayleigh Smith

    I’m a total bookworm as well, but I have a first-generation Kindle. It’s easy to get a used one for pretty cheap now that they’re on the third generation or whatever. I love my Kindle, which is pretty funny because I was so opposed to e-readers before I got this. But I was (temporarily) moving across the country, and I didn’t have enough room in my suitcase for all the books I wanted. The Kindle was my solution, and I am in love with it. So… speaking as a book-lover(I have a couple of thousand books in my room back home), I think the Kindle is a wise purchase.

  • Miranda Eubanks

    Similar conundrum! I travel a lot lately and I love having a book to read (I sometimes also work on multiple books at a time), but I hate it when they get damaged and banged around in my bag. I am also a gadget lover, so having an e-reader would be awesome. Price issues aside, I love physical books. It’s funny how there’s no solution to this situation!

  • Danni Marie

    The nooks have just gone down in price… Nook Simple Touch (eInk) is $99, NookColor is $199, and the new NookTablet (with a screen the same quality as the iPad, and general reviewed as better than the Kindle Fire) is $249

  • Jessica Colella

    I choose to be a bookworm, forever and for always. Like you mentioned, there is nothing like the smell or feel of a book. I also love going to library sales of donated books and finding an amazing novel for a DOLLAR! It gets me on some crazy book high! Needless to say I am a book hoarder and while they do tend to clutter my room and take up extra space, I love having them with me.

    There’s something that an e reader just can’t deliver. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re just so shut off from everything else. When you’re holding a book, someone can read the cover and maybe even spark a conversation with you, but an e reader just screams “get away, I want to be left alone, I’m doing something important!” I’m also a goodreads fan, do you utilize this website? It is FANTASTIC! And can, of course, be used by both book and ereaders. =]

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