I am old fashioned and read books – I mean the physical, printed material in black and white (sometimes with a dash of color added for effect) with a cover announcing its name. I have tried, fought and lost the battle for keeping my brain activated through digital pursuits in the form of Kindle and other e-readers.
I often make a spectacle of myself in public places like coffee shops and trains when I open my 300-pound, hardcover book and try to read a page or two. In particular, youngsters (which for me is anyone under the age of 50), look curiously at me and suppress their chuckle and amusement. The more daring ones glance at the title (boldly printed across the top, of course) and wonder ‘who the hell is Sherlock Holmes?’. With sound judgement they decide to leave me alone and maintain their distance from the dinosaur.
At home, my family complains that I am wasting precious real estate by still maintaining my collection of non-digital reading material. They also are convinced that my stubbornness poses serious risk of injury from falling bookshelves and people tripping over books in unexpected locations. There is a constant battle between books being hidden away in inaccessible places and my valiant attempts to retrieve those when I feel the need to entertain myself.
By far the biggest challenge for book worms like me comes from travel. Preparing for travel or, more precisely, packing before an upcoming trip, poses serious challenges. Depending on the duration of the trip, I try to select my array of books. While my wife urges me to pack more than one shirt, instead of 10 hardcovers for 2 weeks, my children are berating me for carrying an entire library. I end up carrying a few tonnes in my backpack, having been banned from using space in the suitcases.
Being forced to travel frequently for business, I try to squeeze in some reading during flights – another bad idea. Quite frequently, my hand luggage, containing my precious book, is usurped and checked-in at the last minute by the airlines gate agent leaving me high and dry. During the flight, I can only stare enviously at my co-passengers happily engrossed in their e-books. On those occasions when I carry a tiny cabin bag, I am parked in the middle seat with no possibility of elbow (or other) movement. I am forced to maneuver with my legs and retrieve my bag, inside which lies my precious asset, from under the seat in front. With deft movements of toes and thumbs, I sometimes manage to actually retrieve the book and open a page, drawing dirty stares from one and all in close proximity. Then, I perform for a while the delicate dance of keeping my book open at the right page, balancing my drink and avoiding encroachment of the imaginary lines of space between adjacent seats. I quickly realize the infeasibility of the situation, close my book and smile at the digital neighbors.
Nowadays, I wisely retire to the local library to hide in plain sight with my books.