Lately, I've been boxing up some books for a few reasons: to keep Fianna from destroying the nice hardbacks, to make room for other "stuff", and the expectation that we'll move soon and have to do so anyway.
In an indicator of how pampered modern life has become (not just me), I'm running across several books that I planned to read but never did... because I bought a Kindle roughly two years ago. With an ereader on hand, the prospect of prying open poorly binded books to read all the text comfortably, squinting at small type, or propping up a one-pound hardback for extended periods... sort of... lost its appeal.
In the past, students, researchers, clergy and others would travel far and wide for access to great libraries of books, risking their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. Comfort while reading was also a luxury few could afford... having to read large, poorly printed tomes by candlelight or worse... and good luck finding a worthy translation of some works. Many people in the world still face poor access to books. Yet, I was putting aside books because... they were inconvenient? Oof.
What's more, if I already own the book in print, I feel it a matter of principle to NOT buy an ereader version. I already bought the damn thing! The transition to ereaders has many in that boat, looking at library of books carefully collected over the years and thinking, "no way I'm paying to duplicate that digitally, however, if I happen to find them for free..." I'm with you on that one. Unfortunately, unless it was a bestseller, you probably won't be able to find a "pirated" copy.
After getting through a hundred or so books on the Kindle (Philip K Dick's almost complete works being the most recent), I am finally getting back to some of these bulky things laying about in piles on my desk and nightstand. For example:
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic (1789-1815) and What Hath God Wrought: The Tranformation of America (1815-1848): Two huge books from the Oxford History of America. The first, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution (1763-1789), was the last book I was reading when I acquired the Kindle. It is also the only book where I paid for a print and digital version. I was halfway through and wanted to finish, the book probably weighs a pound, so I sucked it up and paid twice for the same thing (the way I see it).
American Ceasar: Douglas MacArthur (William Manchester) - Manchester rocks!
The Inimitable Jeeves & Stiff Upper Lip Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse) - Cody sent me these from Japan. I don't know where he got them but they must be some indication of the Japanese love of western culture. The lenghty Jeeves series started in the 1920's and has been brought to the small and big screen since. They are comedies and P.G. Wodehouse was a genius at capturing and satirizing upper-crust English culture at the end of the Empire's heyday.
20th Century Boys - A graphic novel from Japan, also from Cody. Very Japanese, in fact, I need to start reading it from the last page... or first.. ehh, what?
Voyaging Down The Thames (Clyde Eddy) - I have a yen for reading OLD travelogues. You know, back before there were a couple thousand travel blogs and TV shows, and when only the most priveleged could afford to travel anywhere except domestically. This book was written in 1938 by an American who went to England with some notepads and a camera, got himself a canoe and traced the entire route of the Thames. Interesting because he provides a detailed history of some of the most mundane sites (by our standards) through the ages... Celts, Romans, Danes, Normans,Saxons, etc. It's also a good peek at British life between the World Wars.
China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia - One of many Chinese history books I have. Made it all the easier to skip the huge hardback.
The Great Shark Hunt (Hunter Thompson) - I think I only half finished this, but I'm not positive. Another big tome.
..and some other stuff that got packed away.