E-readers – and the death of paperbacks?

Books, Everyday life, Literature

It was in August of 2017 that I decided to take the plunge and invest in an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite – one of the world’s most popular reading devices. At the time, the reasoning behind me purchasing one was simple – convenience.

The Amazon Kindle in all it’s e-ink glory

The months prior to me finally purchasing an e-reader of my own were interesting – ordering paperbacks off online retailers and waiting days for them to get to me. Or casually browsing through books in book stores to eventually find (and purchase) a few that captured my attention.

And what’s the first thing we do when we purchase a new book?

Why, we flip it open, stick our nose into it, and take a deep breath.

Because no sensation is as euphoric as the aroma of a freshly purchased book. (Okay, maybe that’s too exaggerated a sentiment.)

The sweet smell of books

Nevertheless, when it came to paperbacks, one of my major gripes was the latency between wanting a book and eventually getting one. That, and the fact that you always need to have a decent light source under which to read.

Enter the Kindle.

Over the course of the last 2 years, I have probably read well over six dozen books on my Kindle – and the simplest reason for why that figure is so high is because of the immediate availability of any book you desire on the Kindle store.

Also, e-books are far more inexpensive. And if you’re a voracious reader – purchasing a dozen paperbacks every two months can end up stressing your wallet. But then again, when it comes to a few certain books, I prefer the paperback over an e-book.

Most recently, I was looking out for Part 3 of ‘The Stormlight archives’ by Brandon SandersonOathbringer. Surprisingly enough, at the time (October 2018), the paperback version of it with the original cover art was unavailable in India and the hardcover version cost about ₹2000 (no thanks, mate!). So I ended up settling for the e-book which costed a mere ₹400.

If you do not follow this book series, you are missing out. More on ‘The Stormlight Archives’ in another blog post.

With the major boom of e-readers, starting from the early half of this decade, there has been concern surrounding the fate of paperbacks – and most importantly – the traditional concept of reading. Some say that e-readers are unnatural to use and do not compare to the “feel of having a book in your hand”. Some even say that e-readers aren’t as relevant as they used to be – with smartphones and tablets becoming the major devices used to cater to people’s reading needs.

But personally, I consider e-readers a blessing. Having access to any book I want (and saving paper in the process) is something that appeals to my thought process. Plus, being a predominantly night time reader, snuggling up under a blanket and reading a book on my Kindle with the lights out is quite an intimate experience in itself.

That being said, I still do purchase paperbacks. Currently, I am in the process of reading ‘The Wheel Of Time’ series by Robert Jordan and I have decided that I will purchase all of the series’ 14 odd books in the form of paperbacks.

Why? Because as much as I love my Kindle, nothing satisfies a bibliophile more than having his shelf expand with more and more books.

The feeling of a stacked collection – something my Kindle with a library of 50 odd books cannot convey as powerfully as its paperback counterparts would.

Cheers to paperbacks and to e-readers – both of which will continue to hold an equal stake of my heart for the near future.

What do you prefer? e-books? Or paperbacks? Drop a comment and let me know. 🙂

Age is just a number (A review of ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ by Ray Bradbury)

Books, Fiction, Literature
The silhouette of Mr Dark can be seen in the above cover art.

I’ve been a huge Ray Bradbury fan ever since I read ‘Fahrenheit 451’ a couple of years ago. The prevalent theme of censorship in the book captivated me and it pushed me to dabble into more of Bradbury’s works – such as ‘Dandelion Wine’ and ‘The Illustrated Man’.

Today, I got the chance to read ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ – the second book in Bradbury’s Green Town trilogy (the first being ‘Dandelion Wine’). The book, however, merely serves as a spiritual successor to ‘Dandelion Wine’, as no characters from the first book make an appearance in this one.

Like ‘Dandelion Wine’ however, this book is once again set in the fictional ‘Green Town’ in Illinois, which is visited by a traveling carnival led by a sinister looking man named Mr Dark in mid-October. However, with the arrival of Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show, the town finds itself drowned in a mood of fear and self-doubt. Most notably, two young boys by the name of Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade decide to visit the carnival at night to see what’s up. Also, Charles Halloway, father to Will, is notably affected by the arrival of the carnival, as his insecurities over his old age begin to seep through and take over him.

This is a fascinating book in which Bradbury expertly crafts an unsettling experience for the readers – as the book slowly dives deeper into darker territories ad it is revealed that Mr Dark and Mr Cooger possess powers which allow them to reverse the age of anyone who desires it – at the price of their freedom.

What really moved me in this book, however, was the constant state of turmoil which Charles Halloway finds himself in. Torn between wanting to be younger to get a second chance at life (the age difference between him and his wife always made him uncomfortable) and coming to terms with the fact that age is just a number, Charles’ journey throughout the story keeps readers engaged and constantly questioning whether Mr Halloway would give in and approach Mr Dark to regain his youth.

All this leads to a fantastic conclusion that sees Mr Halloway, Will and Jim take center stage.

The book is a thorough exploration into one of man’s deepest insecurities – old age and death – but establishes a powerful message in the end that it doesn’t matter when death takes you.

What really matters is how you spend every moment of your life leading up to your last days among-st the living. Bradbury brushes aside the terror posed by death as something that need not be feared – in a chilling conclusion that each and every one of you must experience by picking up this book and giving it a read.

One of the best books I’ve read in a while – 5/5! Cheers!

Lord Of The Flies – and why it’s a must read!

Lord Of The Flies

Over the course of the last 2 years, I have read several books that have moved me in several different ways. Either they push me to the brink of rib-piercing laughter – or they make my face sag with a frown of sadness – or they render me paralyzed with fear when my favorite character suddenly finds himself or herself in a serious predicament.

In a similar vein, there are books that occasionally set my neurons ablaze and stimulate the juices in my head to intensely ponder over what I just experienced – and one such book just so happens to be William Golding’s ‘Lord Of The Flies’.

‘Lord of the Flies’ tells the story of a group of boys who land up on a remote island in the middle of nowhere after their plane crashes.

With not a single adult in the vicinity to rally them up and get them rescued, a young lad by the name of Ralph – and the other surviving boys – band together and decide to take matters into their own hands and figure out a way to get off the island.

Soon after they land up on this desolate rock, on finding a conch (a fancy term for a sea shell) near the shore with the help of Piggy (another young lad), Ralph is automatically flung into a position of high leadership – as all the other boys vote to make him chief of the group.

This upsets a young boy by the name of Jack, who disagrees with Ralph on several pertinent issues throughout the tale.

For example, while Ralph believes that keeping a fire lit at the top of the mountain to produce enough smoke so that a ship can detect them is of top priority, Jack’s fascination for hunting pigs leaves him devoid of any form of rationality or common sense.

Yes, little Jack wants to hunt pigs instead of being rescued. Somebody needs to find this kid’s parents and have a talk with them.

Soon enough, the boys find themselves pitted against each other, and that is when their short-lived society slowly deteriorates into anarchy.

And here we stumble upon what is the prevalent theme of the book – and that is the boys’ constant struggle to retain their humanity. With no adult to guide or supervise them, some of them quickly have their minds drowned in savagery, most notably Jack, whose constant urge to hunt and spill blood takes precedence over trying to get off the island. Ralph quickly finds his position of leadership in turmoil, as Jack rallies up the boys to side with him, and see things from his view.

“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling unable to communicate.” 

Lord Of The Flies
William Golding: Lord of the Flies

The novel is an allegory of what being disconnected from society and the real world can do to the human mind. Back in England, these boys would never dare to resort to such fiendish acts – but on an island which seems far away from the fabrics of time and reality, all forms of pragmatism and common sense fade and give way to man’s more primal desires.

With no one to shame or judge man, man is free to resort to becoming an animal, because there are no longer consequences. The lust for power, the lust for war, the lust for blood – all these thoughts permeate through the boys one by one till finally, only the toughest of minds (or mind, I’m not going to give that away) were able to retain their sanity by the end.

“Which is better–to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?” 

Lord Of The Flies

My takeaway from the book is this – sometimes there is no benefit in thinking straight. What does one get from being rational when the entire fabric of rationality fades before you? You get to save face amongst an army of savages – is that really worth it? When life brings you to a point which seems bleak and dire, and to a point of no escape,what do the laws and rules of society matter anymore? Rules, laws, society – all this keeps us from succumbing to the power of the savage within each and every one of us.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.” 

Lord Of The Flies

This book will have you think a lot once you read it. And I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to read a classic and is ok with a bit of a dark theme (there is blood and death, and some of you may not be okay with all that).

Unless you’ve read it already? What was your takeaway from this book? Did it move you in a similar way? Drop a comment and let me know.