I started off with the Kindle. Then I sat on it, broke it, and bought a Nook. Then I got an iPad to read books on my Kindle, Nook, and Unlimited Kindle Amazon apps. I’ve complained about my library system for years, so last year I purchased a monthly subscription with OysterBooks. I used this to screen books for the library. They went out of business, so I tried Scribd. Scribd started off strong (they have a nice audio book selection), but they recently changed their pricing plan and it’s a bit confusing. I have unlimited access to certain books all the time, unlimited access to certain books selected by editors monthly, and access to 3 books per month from the Scribd library. I might understand the new Scribd model if reading e-books didn’t make me so stupid.
Reading e-books doesn’t makes everyone stupid. I know there are people out there who use their e-readers to access their Nobel laureates collection on-the-go. Somewhere there is a woman, sitting at the doctor’s office, waiting 45 minutes for her quarterly dental hygiene appointment. “No problem,” she tells the apologetic receptionist as she syncs to the last read page of The Republic. “That’s what Plato is for!”
“No problem,” I would tell the apologetic receptionist as I synced to the last read page of Lover Revealed. “That’s what ambiguously gay vampires are for!”
I blame Amazon Kindle Unlimited. You still have to spend money with a Kindle, Nook, or Scribd account, but with Amazon Unlimited, you pay a small fee once a year and in return have access to hundreds of thousands of free books. Many of those books are good; great, even. Over the last few months I’ve stumbled upon books I was going to buy, or wanted to read, or thought looked interesting. I didn’t read them, of course. Why eat an orange when there are donuts?
I’m not a huge fan of donuts, but I’ll have one if I find them in the break room because (1) they go down easy, (2) they’re free, and (3) I never know when I’ll eat another. This last justification amuses me because donuts are at school only on days that end in Y. There is always a donut somewhere on campus. Oranges, funny enough, are hard to find. I know I have a dieter’s mentality when it comes to food. I didn’t know I have one when it comes to books! Like oranges, there are plenty of books I would enjoy more and get more from, but instead I inhale the Book Donut.
I don’t need donuts all the time, whether they’re made of sugar and flour or paper and glue. I also don’t need to be the priest I met at a conference who said I should only read books and watch television shows/movies that are edifying. “He sounds like a dull, uptight man,” said my parish priest when I told him the story. “I hope I never get stuck in a Diocesan meeting with him.” (I love my parish priest.)
I need moderation in my life. To that end, I’m considering an e-reading fast where I read only paper books for a time. Like a juice fast, but I’m giving up lousy books on Amazon Unlimited instead of lousy food. Instead, I can read books from my towering to-read pile. And if this whole experience sounds too much like the musings of a privileged Hispanic woman, I’ll toss in some health reasons just so it’s clear that, yes, these are the musings of a privileged Hispanic woman. Studies link the use of the backlit screens in ipads to depression and suicidality, though skeptics abound. I’m not depressed or suicidal, but I do sleep poorly. Access to distracting apps (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) are all right there on my iPad homepage. My traditional Kindle is okay since it offers a reading experience similar to a traditional paper book and doesn’t give me access to social media, but I want to stay away from Amazon’s e-book section until it no longer calls to me like the donuts in the faculty lounge.
I haven’t officially committed to anything but already I feel anxious, like I’m about to start a diet. I want to pick a start date and then read Amazon Kindle Unlimited around the clock until then. I’m picturing a Rumspringa for Book Nerds. Before I start, I need to work out a few details. For example, I have legitimately good books from publishers and authors to read and review, many of them for the library. Maybe I’ll start my fast after I read them.
I can’t wait to start this diet! On Monday!