There is no denying that eReaders are super convenient. Not only do they take up zero space in the house, but they are also easy to access and generally fairly quick to purchase and download. But reading them in the bath is hazardous, they don’t feel as good in one’s hands, and they don’t smell good. And you can’t see them strewn about the house in all their bookish glory; little piles of lives captured in paper and ink. I also recently discovered reading an eBook on an iPad can be more painful to the face when you fall asleep while reading.
This makes me especially sad when I buy a book as an eBook and love it so much that I wish I bought it as a physical book, just so I can touch it and flick open to my favourite page whenever I want, and underline things and just generally love it. I’ve got a few books I have this problem with, and one day when I have a house with a room as big as a house to house all my books (did you catch all that?), maybe I’ll go buy them in paper. But for now I’ll just have to content myself with cold glass and metal.
10. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I don’t read a lot of books I would describe as scary, but this one really freaked me out. I want to own a copy just so I can read it and put it in the freezer when it scares me, like Joey does on ‘Friends’ when he reads The Shining and Little Women. Also, Daniel Radcliffe is excellent in the film adaptation of this novel. If you’ve seen the movie but not read the book, the endings are different so you should read the book and it’ll be a surprise for you!
9. Bereft by Chris Womersley. This is set in Australia after WWI and centres around a character who has returned from the war, but who can’t go home because of an incident that occurred before he left for the war – and was the reason for him leaving in the first place. My favourite thing about this book is the vividly written imagery of country NSW. Originally coming from the middle of nowhere myself, I love reading books that evoke the smells and sights of outback Australia – it’s just as beautiful in real life as it is in this book. If you like Peter Carey and Tim Winton, you’ll probably like this one too.
8. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and this one is amazing! It traces the history of an illuminated Hebrew manuscript beginning in Spain prior to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, all the way through Europe and two world wars, right up to the Bosnian War in the early 1990’s. The historical detail is amazing, the characters throughout are intriguing, and it certainly made me appreciate how lucky we are to have so many books from medieval times and earlier still around today, despite the fragility of them.
7. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. It’s hilarious, it’s heartfelt, and not as cute and fluffy as the title would have you believe. As an example, here’s my favourite quote: ‘The chipmunk lay awake that night, imagining the unpleasantness that was bound to take place the following morning. What if jazz was squirrel slang for something terrible, like anal intercourse? “Oh, I like it too,” she’d said – and so eagerly!’
6. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. This one is dark, slightly comical, and also a gun slinging western. How could it possibly be bad? It’s sort of like True Grit by Charles Portis, but a bit more gruesome, and the gunslingers in this novel are a far cry from Rooster Cogburn – they are far more morally ambiguous. Also, the cover of this book is one of my favourites ever.
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. No real reason for this other than when I cry while reading this, tear soaked pages are much more romantic than drops of salty water on a glass screen. This book is amazing and should be read by everyone.
4. The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. This is another journey through history, this time completely real and rather than a book, we join Edmund de Waal as he traces the history of a cabinet of Japanese netsuke that has been in his family for over 100 years. As we follow the journey of the netsuke through time, so do we learn the about de Waal’s ancestors – the Ephrussi family – their rise and to power, and eventually their demise at the hands of the Nazi’s. One the most engaging histories I’ve read in the last few years.
3. A Simpler Time by Peter FitzSimons. Mr FitzSimons is probably my favourite Australian author. He writes biographies and writes them really well. He’s a very conversational writer and his books are always well researched, full of detail, and completely honest. A Simpler Time is a bit different though as it’s his own memoirs, starting from when he was a very small child living not too far away from where I live now actually. As with his biographies of other people, it’s honest and emotive and just made me love him even more.
2. Mawson And the Ice Men of the Heroic Age: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen by Peter FitzSimons. This is one of those amazing biographies I mentioned just above, and the one that kick-started my love affair with the history of Antarctic exploration and the incredible men who explored it. Sir Douglas Mawson is perhaps one of the lesser known of these explorers, but his achievements are no less important. He was amongst the group of men who were first to reach the Magnetic South Pole and made significant contributions to geological science due to his research undertaken in Antarctica, earning himself a knighthood in the process and even gracing one side of the Australian $100 bill for a while (why he was replaced I’ll never understand – not that I’m in the habit of possessing $100 notes anyway).
1. The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. This is probably the only book I ever recommend to people on the rare occasion people ask me for book recommendations. But my recommendation always comes with a disclaimer, “but don’t just read it now because I told you to – you have to read it when you’re ready”. Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to who has read this book has taken some kind of message away from it that is completely relevant to the point they are at in their life, and no two messages have been the same. That’s why you just have to pick it up when the mood takes you, not because I tell you to. You’ll read it when the time is just right and that’s when it will be the most special for you.
Do you have any eBooks you wish you’d bought as physical books? Do you even like eBooks?