As a supply teacher, on my lunch, I usually read my kindle because I don’t know anyone and because I’m rubbish at small talk with strangers. I’d always rather read than have a banal conversation about the weather or whatever. Usually people are polite enough to leave me to it but occasionally the kindle itself becomes the focus of conversation. This happened recently when the guy sat opposite me – also a supply teacher and also with kindle – started to cough in that deliberate way that lets you know they want your attention. Okay, I thought, maybe he’ll ask what I’m reading and we can talk about books. It could be worse.
In fact, the first words out of his mouth were, “how many books have you got on it? Have you got lots? I’ve got..” Well, I’ve forgotten his exact number but it was a lot and a lot more than me. I had to say that I didn’t know. He seemed surprised. He went on to detail all the book collections that he had, the complete works of Tolkien, George R. R. Martin and many others that I’ve forgotten. The bigger and bulkier the better as if the knowledge that you should be reading a weighty tome somehow added to the pleasure of reading on the kindle.
I hadn’t really thought of my kindle as a possible repository for every book I have ever wanted to read so that you could be carrying around your very own version of the British Library. Needless to say, he hadn’t read that many of them but that didn’t seem to be the point. The collecting was everything.
This is the very opposite of my attitude to my kindle. Until very recently, I didn’t have any books other than the one I was reading and the ones I had read. I would read a book and then when it was getting near the end, buy another. I didn’t want to be faced with making a decision about what to read next when I am out and about, I suppose. Now, I have two or three unread ones, thanks mostly to the daily kindle deals which seem to good to be missed. Still, I don’t want the kindle to turn into the main repository for my books. I still buy physical books and standing in front of my bookshelves trying to decide what to read next is a pleasure in a way that flicking through titles on the screen just isn’t.
In the end, I asked him what he was reading and it was one of those Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter type books which he gushed about for a bit but he still didn’t ask me what I was reading. His parting shot, I’ve lots more books on my memory stick if you want some. I’ll show you, if you like but I had to decline the offer of a visit to his virtual library as the bell rang for lessons to start again. Just as well, really.