Decisions, decisions, decisions!

What to read, when to read it, and what format to use? These are all issues that confront todays modern reader, and one that many of us old-timers over the age of 30 never had to deal with!

            Back then things were pretty simple. Hardback vs. Paperback. No more, no less, and for me I usually chose Hardback books because they lasted longer than paperback which get pretty dog-eared after just a single reading. But todays modern reader has a multitude of choices and now even I have to figure out what suits my reading habits the best.

            From Hardback to Paperback, from Audiobook to Kindle and various other e-reader devices, there are choices galore and I must admit that I am forced to try and adapt to these new methods and figure out what is best for me, both as to the method I chose along with what book I wish to read. And a funny thing happened along the way, I began to like reading books on my Kindle.

            But before we get there, I must first decide what is the right book for me to read at a certain time, and then what is the best format. I will admit that I have tried audiobooks and I just do not like them for numerous reasons. First of all, I am old-school. One cannot “read” a book if you are listening to a book. I understand that many commuters enjoy this method, but when I drive I tend to focus on the traffic instead of the book and so I zone out for periods of time, even though the narrator is trying their best to keep my attention.  I find avoiding accidents is more important and therefore I miss a lot of the plot and meaning in a book. Also, if I want to go back and find a specific place to “re-read” that is impossible on an audiobook. Thus, for me, I would not use this method even if I were commuting or doing a long-distance drive.

            I still prefer the “weight” of a Hardback book, but as my library has grown to well over 4,000 books there is little room for new purchases, plus the pricing is rather ridiculous. However, non-fiction titles do appear to be best in this format since they can take longer to read and some of these books I cannot find in paperback (I have lately been purchasing non-fiction books written and published in the UK) and therefor can justify the pricing if the book peaks my interest.

            Paperback books are now taking up more and more space on my library but I do not like those little mass market paperbacks that are so small, and which have such a small font size, that I almost need a magnifying glass to read it. The larger paperbacks are easier for me to store, handle and read. And then there are certain fiction authors I would only consider buying in paperback, as opposed to hardback. And when I get books from our local library I still will prefer hardback vs. paperback editions.

            Then there is Kindle or other e-readers. Hold on Nellie!! They have changed the game altogether. Many times the books are cheaper than other formats, and I know that Amazon had a Kindle subscription that even allows unlimited reading of certain books for only about $10 a month, which is a very tempting offer.

            I tried Kindle when it first came out and I was so-so on the product. But time has gone by, Kindles have gotten more reader friendly and now I can bookmark and underline parts I want to read again, and since I have a Kindle app on my phone I can take my reading with me in one simple device. I have found that mysteries and many novels that I used to purchase in other formats are easier to read on my Kindle, plus when I cannot sleep at night the Kindle does not require me to turn on the lights in the house and wake others.

            And lately I have found entire collections by certain classic authors to be fully available on my Kindle either for Free or under $1. How can you not buy the complete Sherlock Holmes, along with the complete works of Mark Twain, Henry James, Emile Zola, Anthony Trollope, etc. along with some classic sets like The Forsythe Saga or the wonderful Lanny Budd series by Upton Sinclair (just recently rediscovered and released on Kindle).

            And now we come to another dilemma. I have the massive paperback books “War and Peace”, “Les Miserables” and “The Count of Monte Cristo” all sitting in my library in paperback form. All are from 1100 to 1300 pages in length and I am certain will become dog-eared by the time I hit page 400. At this length these babies are hard to carry around, and also do not wear well in a car because heat, dampness, light all effect the book and its binding.

            I do have the complete Leo Tolstoy on my Kindle, and may have to consider getting other classics on this format (Dickens comes to mind!) just for the ease and simplicity of use. These are some of those decisions we all have to make as to what to the best format for reading.

            Finally we get to the best time of year to read certain books. No matter how hard I try, these books by Dickens take 2-3 months for me to get through, partly because I tend to start 4 or 5 books at one time, and Dickens sometimes suffers through a drought due to other books I am reading.

            There are light summer reading books, books to read by the fire or while snuggled up during the winter, there are books about sports that are best read while that sports season is in progress or right before the season begins to get one ready for the upcoming season. And thanks to certain emails I receive I also have found some wonderful mystery writers that I never heard of and whose books are not readily available at my local library. Writers like Boris Akunin, Candace Rabb, Peter Bowen and a host of others now lay in waiting on my Kindle device ready to be whipped out and devoured whenever I feel a need for that “lighter” style of reading.

            So what is truly best? Friends it is up to your personal reading style. My daughter loves audiobooks, whereas I am not such a fan. My one son reads non-fiction and thus a lot of hardback books, while I shift from format to format trying to figure out what is best for me on a book by book basis.

            Right now I am reading a novel by T.C. Boyle in paperback, a baseball book in paperback, a novel on my Kindle, and a non-fiction Hardback book. I have decided that there is no single perfect format for me. I would not want all the works of James Michener on paperback, but I do have 3 on my Kindle and over 10 in Hardback, each of which format works for me. More and more I enjoy novels and classics on my Kindle for the mere ease in being able to take them with me in a convenient format and one which I can use at any time of day.

            Many folks think I make a mountain out of a molehill, but if you are like me then you understand why format, reading choice and when to read a book are some of the hardest decisions one can make.

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