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  And then one day I woke up hungry.  No, starving.  For books.  Real books.  The physical objects themselves. What was I reading again?  According to my iPhone/iPad/Kindle library, a dozen or more titles—fiction, poetry, non-fiction, memoir —were in some stage of being nibbled, tasted, half-consumed. (Seriously. What was I reading?  I couldn’t quite recall.)  My e-library was a well-stocked pantry, bursting at 500-plus titles.  So why did I feel under-nourished, unable to concentrate, peevish with a kind of sensory deprivation? 
 
I’m a writer, therefore a reader. I had touted the Kindle experience, felt thrilled to carry my growing e-library in a tote bag or a pocket. No more having to choose exactly which books to take on an airplane or a train, to an appointment or the park. 

And then one day I woke up hungry.  I longed for that once upon a time when the book had been a three-dimensional physical object, its hard or soft covers the singular skin that held its singular insides, when my experience of what it had to tell me, show me, teach me merged with the look and the feel and the smell of the paper made thing itself. I missed a book insisting on its weighty self in my hands as I read it, missed the calming feeling evoked by imagining the book waiting for me on the table next to my bed, the sadness or elation of a bookmark’s place indicating how much more or less was left. 
 
An e-book is not your friend.  I knew this of course. I hadn’t given up on books entirely. My shelves are over-stuffed with books, old friends I can reconnect with, and do, any time I choose.  And when I write, depending on what I write, I must have a particular pile of actual books sitting beside me on my desk or bed or on the floor next to my chair, exactly those books I suspect will help to remind me of the technique I’m attempting, those masters who will challenge me to reach farther, goad me to push ahead and stay the course. 
 
As objects, books are the talismans of my creative process, their contents pageable, their bindings loved to pieces or stiff with promise, but within sight at all times.  There is a time and a place, I’ve decided, for e-books.  But book books books, like those I recently bought for summer vacation reading, are still with me when I look up from my various screens. Some will come home with me in September, others are destined to be left behind in the house by the water.  No matter. They’ll feed someone else’s hunger, of that I’m certain. 
 
~Lesley Dormen
 
Lesley Dormen is the author of 
The Best Place to Be: A Novel in Stories and Associate Director of the Writers Studio in Greenwich Village.

Summer 2014 

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