Nothing strikes terror in the hearts of friends and family like a conversion announcement. I came out at a football playoff party at my dear friend Lolita’s house. Maybe it wasn’t the best timing – mid tortilla chip dip and all. But I blurted it out anyway.
“Gary got me a Kindle for Christmas and I love it.”
Lolita’s jaw dropped but she recovered fast enough to bust me on my own hypocrisy. “You said you were one of us!” meaning her literature-loving, book-club-belonging, close-knit group of friends. “I would feel better if you were converting to Catholicism!”
Lolita has nothing against Catholics; it was just the biggest about-face she could think of on the spot. (I am rather public in my secular-humanist, spiritual-but-no-formal-religion stance.) Like Lolita, I have always been adamant in my cuddle-up-with-a-good-book, feel-of-the-paper, musty-smell-and-all support of the traditional.
I blame my conversion partially on my cat, Rosie. Trying to read a “real” book with her in the vicinity was always a challenge. She is literally jealous of anything that prevents petting when she is in the mood for affection and “real” books are big and heavy and prevent guilt-inducing eye-contact between the species. She has batted books out of my hands, clawed pages and bared her teeth in the past. Thankfully, since the Kindle is not cheap, she has nothing against the e:reader. She actually purrs when I balance the Kindle on her side, or her back, or even that itchy spot where her tail connects. The only glare I get is when I have to turn the thing off and rejoin the working world.
But it would be rather small of me to not admit the other reasons I love my cozy little reader. Pointing at a word for an instant definition instead of having to look it up in a dictionary? Priceless. Hovering over a delicious phrase and having it “highlighted” for later lingering? Addictive. Reading a book review in the Wall Street Journal and being able to instantly download it and start reading? Good for the economy, if not for my checkbook. I’m buying new books again – for the first time since my friend Will Balk left the Bay Street Trading Company.
Don’t worry, Lolitas of the world. I’m not going to throw my old books in a bonfire and I’m not divorcing myself from all things non-electronic. I wasn’t required to sign an oath of allegiance and because I live with a photographer I’m certain art books will maintain their treasured status in our house. But forgive me if it takes a little longer to answer the phone on weekends. I’ll be purring with Rosie.