At the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious teenager on Booktok, let me humblebrag for a second: I’ve read nearly 100 books so far this year. Turns out it wasn’t that hard and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. My goal for 2023 is to read 200 books.
As a kid, I was obsessed with reading. I always had my nose between pages, much to the chagrin of my parents, teachers, and anyone trying to have a conversation with me over the dinner table. Like many of my peers, I stopped reading so voraciously as I got older, gradually letting the hobby fall by the wayside. Reading was too much work and not enough fun. In the summer of 2020, my partner gifted me a Kindle, and ebooks have ever since changed my life. None of this is hardly new—the Kindle alone has been around for more than 15 years, and digital books are even older—but it still feels like they’re underrated. Allow me to re-introduce their benefits.
Books but Better
I enjoy a good physical book as much as the next gal, but over the past few years, I’ve found myself reaching for them less and less. Ebooks don’t take up any physical space. There’s no need to schlep them around in a bag, no late fees if you forget to return them to the library, and no spilled coffee disasters to worry about. Having thousands of ebooks in your pocket is a plus, but a small footprint isn’t the best ebook benefit.
Having a built-in dictionary in Kindle rules. Rereading the first 5 percent of Gravity’s Rainbow would be a whole lot harder if I couldn’t look up a word on the fly. That goes double for a built-in translation tool, and a quick Wikipedia lookup is handy when trying to build a picture in my head. The protagonist’s favorite flowers are zinnias—what do those look like again? Digital reading lets you find out the answers in a few taps. I also love that I can color-code sections of ebooks that are especially inspiring.
Kindles have Amazon X-Ray on supported titles, which lets me double-check things like family trees in epic sagas like Game of Thrones. This ebook reader also pats me on the back when I break a new reading streak. Gamified reading is awesome and genuinely encourages me to keep going. Importantly, most of these tools are housed within the reading experience so I never have to swipe away or pull out my phone and get distracted.
I’ve also found ebooks to be more accessible than physical books. Adjusting the font size or style, background color, brightness, and screen warmth prevents eye fatigue. It’s easy to escape the clutches of bad kerning, and you can zoom in on the details of an illustration. Take that, nearsightedness!
Judge Them by the Cover
Reading gets a whole lot less stressful if you stop giving a heck what others think. You don’t need to read the latest nonfiction biography or self-help book. You don’t need to read Dostoyevsky or Pynchon. Why would you subject yourself to slogging through something just because you think you ought to? This isn’t a high school English class. Nobody is going to give you a bad grade.
The process of picking out a physical book can be overstimulating and overwhelming. Is the librarian judging me for not remembering the Dewey Decimal System? What was the name of that one series my friend’s friend commented about on Reddit? Discovering and trying new books is better when you do it at your pace in your pajamas.