How I Solved One of My Biggest Existential Crises With Just $100 and 2-Day Shipping

published Sep 14, 2019
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No surprises here: I’m a big weirdo! And according to those who really know me, one of my most off-putting quirks is that from the first chill of autumn to the first solidly warm day of spring (or July, if we’re in Chicago), I usually spend the majority of my waking hours under a blanket reading. Let’s be clear: Not under a blanket like I’m Grandma Josephine or Grandma Georgina, but fully submerged beneath a blanket to the point that I have scared my roommates on multiple occasions when I finally stick my head out because they thought they were the only people in the living room. (They since have requested that I notify them via group chat when I’m going under.)

Credit: Liz Steelman's Roommate Chat
Yes, m'aam, I was still cold on May 6, 2019.

If you have great reading comprehension skills, you might have picked up on a key word in the previous, long-winded paragraph: Yes, I am somehow reading beneath a blanket which begs the question, “Don’t you need light to read?” Well, well, well. Ain’t you smart because ha ha ha, yes, we’ve finally gotten to the point of this post: I am only “one of the most-well read people you’ll ever meet,” (according to multiple guys who have tried to sweeten breaking up with me by telling me that) because I’ve found a way to productively hibernate: The Kindle Paperwhite.

Yes, fellow reader, I am solidly one of “those” people, also known as a Kindle convert. I love my Paperwhite not only because it, as explained above, allows me to maintain the best part of myself during the worst time of the year (read: warmth!), but also that it helps me read waaaay more than I ever did with a tangible book.

Credit: Amanda Steelman
A vintage 2011 photo of me, Liz Steelman, in the bedroom of my parents' home reading under a blanket. This was pre-Kindle, so I was using my laptop for light. My sister, the photographer, titles this photo "No one does things like Liz." She is correct! I read nine books this winter break.

Just like the perfect partner, it manages to keep me from ever fully addressing my flaws and in some ways, even completely removes their consequences, allowing me to simply read more: Have a need to constantly interact with a screen because you’ve wasted too much time scrolling Twitter and Instagram over the years? Make the text bigger so you have to constantly tap every couple of words(!). Don’t like having to remember to charge things? This puppy’s battery lasts at least a month—and I bought my refurbished model way back in 2014 for only $100! Decide not to bring a book somewhere because you’re telling yourself you’re being pragmatic (read: delusional!) and you won’t have time to read? It syncs to your phone, baby! Love having a million things checked out from the library that you probably won’t ever get to? Not only can you borrow things for your Kindle, you can also keep ’em with you at all times!

Now comes the time in my persuasive essay where I address the counterargument: When I tell people that I’ve become a Kindle convert, the one thing 99 percent of my book-loving friends say is that they just love the feel of holding a tangible book. Sometimes they’ll wax poetically about the smell. They’ll talk about how sad they are to lose the aesthetic of filled bookshelves and the dream of one day having a library in their home with stacks that would make any cardigan-wearing person jealous!

Credit: Nicole Lund
Me and my beloved, my refurbished Kindle Paperwhite I have had since college.

I get it, guys! My favorite Disney Princess has always been Belle, too. I watched “Matilda” so many times growing up I wore out the VHS. Despite getting a degree in journalism and not English (because, of course, I also wore out my bright orange VHS to “Harriet The Spy”!), I am just as much as a “big literature nerd” as the next person who, too, measures my friends and enemies by their yearly Goodreads Challenges!

But you know what I love more than how a book feels? The stuff inside! Call me bonkers, but I love practicing the unique ability we humans have to abstract stories and information via the written word. My existential anxiety is that there are entirely too many books in the world and I probably won’t ever get to read all of them. So I’m going to try to make as much as a dent as possible. And if that means giving up the fantasy of meeting my future partner while rereading “Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?” at a bar who just has to talk to me about how much he also loves Lorrie Moore, I think I’m ultimately okay with that. (And just so we’re on the same page, I still totally buy IRL books! I’m still a bookish human!)

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