Physical Books vs. E-Books

I’ve been in Spain for the past three weeks and it has been quite the adventure so far. I’ve taken my first road trip with friends (to Portugal), I’ve tasted tortilla española for the first time, I’ve had the experience of just walking around a city and exploring. I have to say, it’s been a great beginning to my semester abroad. Classes are going well so far (I’m taking two architecture classes and one poetry class) and I have enough free time to journal, draw, practice my Spanish and do a bit of reading.

As I was packing for my semester abroad, one of the first things that I realized was that I couldn’t bring as many books as I wanted. Books are heavy and bulky, and it isn’t necessarily wise to bring a lot of them on a transatlantic flight. So I had to choose wisely what I could bring; basically what I brought were my two Spanish-English dictionaries, my Bible, and about 3-4 lightweight books. Beyond that, I brought my iPad. The books that I downloaded on it are quite a diverse set. There are your typical classics like Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, and The Complete Sherlock Holmes, a few other contemporary fiction books like How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, and a few architecture books. I even have access to my hometown’s library system (with wi-fi). So even though I could only bring a few physical books, I at least had a good amount of e-books at my disposal. Luckily enough, I also have access to an actual library here with books in Spanish and English, so I can still get my physical book fix as needed.

That being said, I figured I’d get in on the whole physical books vs e-book debate discussion. Now I love physical books; I love the feeling of turning a page, the feeling of a solid book in my hands, and the smell of lignin/vanilla/old-paper. In all honesty, nothing can replace the wonderful sensation of holding and reading (and smelling) a physical book. But I implore you to not completely write off using e-books. Yes, they’re on a device with a limited battery life; and yes, it can be annoying to read e-books when it’s sunny outside (or really dark for that matter). But you can fill up your favorite e-reader with dozens of books and it’ll still weigh one pound or less. You can carry your entire library with you without sacrificing space in your backpack. You can easily switch from Pride and Prejudice to The Hunger Games with a few buttons.

For me, a student studying abroad, e-books are truly wonderful, and I’ve discovered several new e-books that are available in my library and I’ve re-read old favorites to remind me of home. Just this past week, I devoured quite a three books since I had the time to read and the space in my bag to carry my iPad everywhere (they were two books in the I, Q series and The Giver if you’re curious), and that’s more than I’ve read for a while. So don’t be afraid to try out e-books, I promise you’re not selling yourself out. And also, read as many free e-books as you can, whether they’re from the library or the free book collection on iBooks (or Kindle). Find an old classic, re-read The Great Gatsby for the 17th time, discover a new series. And then when you have access to the physical book again, don’t hesitate to again enjoy its wonderful scent of lignin and vanilla.

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