My very first purchase.

Yes, it’s true. I’ve finally crossed over to the ‘dark side.’ As of this afternoon, I am the proud owner of a Kobo.

Despite the piles of books scattered around my apartment I’ve resisted buying one for a long time. As a grad student, I’ve always put a premium on printed books. We are taught to treat them like gold.

My attitude towards books is somewhat strange, since I never much liked reading as a child. I mean, I liked reading, but I wasn’t what you might call a bookworm. I haven’t read many of the literary classics, even the requisite Pride and Prejudice, which seems to be on every young woman’s ‘must-read’ list.

My true relationship with books began in grad school. As part of my program, I had to pass a comprehensive exam (we call it ‘comps’). I was given approximately four months to read 100 or so books. As you can imagine, it was pretty intense. There were advantages to this, of course. For starters, my reading speed definitely increased, basically out of necessity. It didn’t take me very long to realize that it was impossible to read every word of every book I was assigned. I had to learn to decipher what was “truly important” in a book, and separate this from the superfluous details.

It’s funny, since I assumed I would never want to read a book again after finally passing my comps in 2009. Instead, comps actually increased my love of reading. It’s true that  I don’t spend nearly as much time reading for pleasure as I do playing PC and video games. But in my early 20s, I finally learned to appreciate reading as a means of leisure.

Just as I had (re)discovered the joy of books, e-readers began hitting the market. Even though I am normally a sucker for small, gadgety devices, I resisted buying one for as long as possible. Stubbornly, I believed that an e-reader would delegitimize all of the books I had just finished reading for my exam. With an e-reader, a stack of books a few feet high was reduced to a device which is only 1 cm thick.

A selection of the books I was assigned for comps.

Now that I’m well beyond comps, I can say that the convenience factor of an e-reader far outweighs any misgivings I had about it. The first book I purchased was Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. I know that he is a very controversial author, but with my Kobo, I’m determined to read a wide selection of science fiction, and Ender’s Game is on my list.

After a few hours with my new e-reader, I can firmly say that it is a welcome addition to my little family of technical gadgets. Little annoyances, like the fact the Kobo doesn’t always implement a space after an italicized word, don’t seem to bother me as much as I thought they would. I especially love that the Kobo offers many literary classics free of charge.

Finally, I appreciate the fact that the Kobo is all about accessibility. Grad school may put a premium on printed books, but it has also taught me that literature is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Books, whether fiction or non-fiction, give us the chance to travel to another world. They introduce us to new emotions and experiences. And this is an opportunity which should be open to everyone.