I've had this problem with a few other books previously and I've either just struggled through or dropped it as I did the Churchill biography. Until recently, given my inability to read sitting up, those were my only alternatives. Now, however, there is another: Amazon's Kindle. As thin as a magazine and weighing in at about 10 ounces (less than a third of the Churchill book) it holds up to 1500 books. So I could buy a Kindle and get rid of the bookcases lining my wall downstairs - my entire library would fit on the Kindle. Problem solved, right?
Alas, no. The Kindle may have its uses, but for regular reading it simply will not do. I could explain but Eudora Welty already did many years ago in One Writer's Beginnings, her lovely childhood memoir. In it she explains:
It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them - with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.And there you have it. The book itself is an object of love: the feel of it, the smell of it, the thousands of well-read titles on your bookshelves, the thousands more surrounding you as you browse in a bookstore. The Kindle could never replace that. As I stated above, the Kindle almost certainly has its uses: to take on a trip, loaded up with travel guides about your destination; as a substitute for your computer for daily internet reading (emails, blogs, etc); and, for the few times you encounter a door-stop heavy book like Jenkins'. I wouldn't even use it to replace magazine reading or to load a bunch of books on to take to the beach. I'd rather just throw six or seven books in my suitcase. So, given what I see is its limited utility, is that worth the $359 price tag? Not hardly. If the price slides down to half of what it currently is I might consider giving the Kindle a try for the uses I mentioned above. But as a full-time replacement for my books? Never.