DP challenge: is it really just the inside that counts?

  • Age 8- the year I discovered Harry Potter.
  • Age 10- Nancy Drew.
  • Age 12- Louise Rennison.
  • Age 14- Philip Pullman.
  • Age 16- Madeleine Wickham.
  • Age 18- Laptop.

I can remember my childhood through the book phases I went through, where every birthday and Christmas list included the publications of the author I was obsessed with that year. The younger, carefree stories, the time I was ‘finding my inner teenager’ and so read accordingly, the year I discovered more ‘grown up’ books. Until the year I got my first laptop. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my laptop and the world it has opened for me- I wouldn’t be doing what I love and writing this blog without it! But, looking back, the year I got my laptop was the year I stopped asking for books.

I don’t oppose e-books by any means- the price, ease, the fact they are a sign of the technology-advanced times we are now living in. But I won’t remember the ten years following on from when I first had my laptop, in the creative, colourful and emotional way I remember the ten years I spent reading physical books. Books I could spend hours choosing on over a coffee, books I could get excited about opening the first page of, folding back the spine like I used to to make it feel ‘mine’. Seeing my tears fall onto narratives of heartbreaks, flicking the pages too quickly as I was racing my friend to the finish.

I’m not suggesting that the emotion, comedy or novelty of a new book is taken away by having a laptop and reading e-books. But I am suggesting that the story feels more alive on paper. It’s a physical entity I can hold in my hand, I can look at in the bookcase stuffed to the brim of neatly-arranged books from my childhood. I can look back at and remember where I was when I first read it- from the smell of the pages or the tomato sauce stain on the back cover made when I was too eager over the story so ate dinner whilst racing to the end.

I can read an e-book anytime, anywhere (so long as there is battery on its device) and it must be very convenient to store so many genres, romances and comedies, adventures and terrors, on a single device (and it takes away less weight from a holiday luggage allowance!) but somehow me, my book and I will always take first place in my mind.

There’s just something about turning off my phone, TV, electronic devices I work with all day and opening that book to escape from the monotony life can sometimes prove to be.

A book. A real-life, physical entity with smudges across the pages and corners bent at the edge can sometimes tell more of a story than the words within it. And that’s why I would choose it every time.

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