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The Smell Of Happiness

July 13, 2012

Tonight I went to my friend Jared’s house for his 30th birthday party and I actually came away with a better present than I bought (which isn’t hard since I bought the staple Thai present of a bottle of Hong Tong to be shared by all). I am an English Literature graduate and a certified book snob. One of the best investments I made before coming abroad was a kindle; if you’re like me it’s invaluable. I feel the same way when I don’t have a book to read as most people do when they forget their phone. It feels like something is missing from my person, like a hand has been cut off – this is doubly so when travelling. With a kindle (or similar) not only do I always have something to read, but I can choose my material or find things that people recommend instead to having to rely on what English books I can find in Thai bookstores or hostels. I would give up 95% of my wardrobe, my backpack and a fistful of cash before I parted with my kindle.

That said, a kindle is not a book, and tonight I acquired from Jared two of his most precious on the condition that they be returned immediately upon completion. Lent books tend not to be returned on the road. The books in question are Barbara Demick’s Nothing To Envy and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The first is the true accounts of people living in North Korea under the regime and the second I don’t know much about, but the blurb describes it as “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.” That’s pretty high praise and Jared tells me that it’s well-deserved. Content-wise I’m excited to read both but what has me brimming with joy tonight is the feel of the books; especially Marquez’s. I opened the soft tan pages and buried my nose in the middle of them and I was met with the scent of pressed flowers, old forests, words and wisdom and the timeless magical aroma of a well-thumbed tome. As magical as a kindle is, until they can perfectly replicate the soft shuffle of pages turning, the softness of old paper and that musky woodland scent they will never replace the good old-fashioned book. Pure bliss. I’ll let you know how the content goes but I’m confident they won’t disappoint.


8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2012 1:53 pm

    I’ll second that! As techy fan I have shouted and taught for years that the e-book technology would happen and now it has. I still think that it is brilliant and makes so many books available to so many people and can make reading an exciting interactive experience with graphics and links doing things that have only been dreamed of before. However, nothing can replace the personal touch that you get with a “real” book. I have taught and read books to classes using interactive whiteboards and the children and I have had a great time, but come story time gathering around a “real” book can’t be matched. The children love using the computers and reading from them, but in my experience most of them still approach the real thing with reverence and care. A glossy picture hard back can hold a child as long as a computer; especially when shared. Even the best tablet technology can’t match it, so let’s support book shops and get the message across loud and clear, even if they are not the most economic of options we still want them.

  2. Suze permalink
    July 17, 2012 12:59 pm

    A certified book-snob – you sure? I definitely was looking at another person’s Kindle WIsh List on Amazon!!! :o) xx

    • Suze permalink
      July 17, 2012 1:02 pm

      Unless of course your snobbery refers to preference for a paper version over an e-version (rather than type of book) in which case I wholly concur…… xx

    • July 19, 2012 5:48 am

      Not guilty! There are two of us! The horror… 😉

  3. August 25, 2012 2:20 am

    You just made me laugh so hard. A certified book snob! BRILLIANT 😉 I always considered myself a book lover. With technology taking over, I still think that a good old book is irreplaceable. I love the feel of the pages in my hands, However I do want to buy a Kindle cause I’d like to have a mini-library when I travel. Reading is a real pleasure and privilege.

    Great books you have chosen. 100 years of solitude is a classic. El Gabo is just amazing as ever. It’s one of the books I read when I was younger and I read it in French before the original Spanish version.

    Now the second book is unknown to me but I hope you will enjoy it.

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

    All the best,

    Kay 😉

    • August 26, 2012 3:38 pm

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked it! I’ve read both now and they were both brilliant, I really recommend Nothing to Envy since you’ve already got a connection with Korea – its really powerful and enlightening. 🙂 Can’t beat a good old-fashioned book.

      Happy adventuring,

      • August 26, 2012 10:17 pm

        I will look it up for sure and it will probably won’t leave me indifferent.

        Are you still going to Korea? It takes a little while to get used to life there but you end up loving the place 😉

      • August 27, 2012 4:40 am

        Yeah definitely, I’m a little nervous about it – I’m sure it’s very different to Thailand! I’m aiming to be out there for August next year. 🙂 I want to see all the cool places you blogged about!

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