Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Confessions of a Readaholic

Confessions of a Readaholic

I have loved books since I managed to read the word ‘hippopotamus’ as a child.
I read when I wake, when I work, when I eat, when I relax and last thing at night before I sleep. Sound familiar? Readaholics are incorrigible, and suffer terrible withdrawal systems if anyone is brave enough to try to wean them from their addiction. Only rarely with love and care may they be persuaded to live in the real world.

This week I have at last made the crossover from editor to writer. It was h-a-r-d. By nature I am an editor. There’s no one happier than me tinkering away with someone else’s cherished novel unless it’s a biker stripping down his Harley.

So there’s nothing remarkable in the fact that I bought three “real” books this week except for the fact that I need to mention it. I probably read between five and ten books a week, friends dump books on me by the carrier bag. Books occupy any spare space on tables, chairs, floor, even the ironing board.

But not only were these books special; they brought about a moment of epiphany.

My book—let me write that again—my book (woohoo) is a cozy mystery, one of my favourite fast-read genres. This, the first novella of the Creektown Chronicles is a Halloween ebook. I started by researching on the Internet but as there are to be five books in the series, I needed the tools of the trade to hand.

And so I bought Frederick Gillam's Poisonous Plants in Great Britain. The book’s a handy size, small and light, and beautifully illustrated by mostly antique prints. The The etchings and drawings which illustrate Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart make another small book to cherish while the wicked humour of John Robertson and the arresting cover of Is That Cat Dead? made it a must buy.

I’m delighted to have them but if I had to choose between print or digital in my life, it would be digital every time.

Why digital?

  • My reference books take up space on my already cluttered desk. I flip between them, constantly losing my place, and it’s often impossible to track down a misremembered anecdote or fact. Perhaps with a tablet to reproduce illustrations I'd have chosen an ebook and then I could have made notes and bookmarks and always found what I needed with one click.

  • On the move, and most of us are on the move, it’s much easier to carry a digital device. A mobile phone can do double duty as a reader. A tablet, or iPad weighs nothing at all compared to a sack of books. You can work anywhere at any time. Notebooks and pencils are all very well but having come home time after time and found my novel thoughts smudgy and incomprehensible, I need a recorder or other digital input process.

  • Work documents, reports, newspapers, magazines are easily converted to suit any e-reader through Calibre software which is cost-free and constantly improving

  • The older reader can adjust the print to a font size that suits and e-readers
    toppling pile of books
    are far  lighter to hold and easy to flip from book to book for night time reading. It avoids the danger of a leaning tower of books dangerously ready to topple from the bedside table. And all these free books on offer, too many to read in one lifetime? Marvelous.

.And when it simply comes down to moving:

  • Downsizing into a tiny house? You can still keep or increase your library.
  • You don’t need to buy emergency books at the airport, or carry overweight book baggage on the flight.

And when it simply comes down to housekeeping:

  • Books are great dust traps. And you’re hardly likely to have time to dust them every day. And as for opening them, shaking them all about and whooshing them closed to get rid of the dust? Forget it.

  • Until I went digital, I never realized how guilty it made me feel to have all these books looking down on me reproachfully, waiting to be read.

  • . And when it comes to bedtime, books crash noisily off the bed when you fall asleep reading. An e-reader, especially one in a case, slips out of my fingers quietly, never loses its place and touch wood, always bounces.