Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy Inaugural Read an eBook Day!


I woke up to the smell of the smoke at 10 PM on the night before my birthday.  It was already the coldest night of this year and we were only down to -26°F at that point.  I had enough time to slide into my slippers, grab my coat and my bag on top of it, and sound the alarm as I fled out of my apartment building and out into the wet, foggy Vermont night.

Once the firefighters let me back in the next night to assess what was salvageable, I could plainly see what I feared the most: my books were gone.  The few that hadn't disappeared into the ether were too soaked by sprinklers and steam to rescue.  My laptop, Kindle Fire, and charger had fried.  (I'd been lucky enough to have my phone in my coat pocket, so it was unscathed.)  In just a matter of minutes, the electrical wiring and ancient boiler in my building's basement had conspired to take away everything I had to read.  Even my journal of three years was gone.

For about two weeks, I sulked.  My parents brought me home to Connecticut to regroup.  It would take nearly two months for all of the insurance claims and payments to go through, so I had no prayer of replacing anything.  And the local library's lending policies just don't help when you're used to juggling several books at once and going through your collection at least once a day to see what's striking you now.

And then, the lightbulb!  I hadn't lost all of my books -- I still had my eBooks!  They were backed up on Amazon, BN.com, Dropbox, Google Books, and elsewhere.  I could take out and return library books with ease by using OverDrive.  I went from crying over lost books to rejoicing over the fact that I still had thousands at my fingertips, all just a few taps away.  For all everyone knocks "the Cloud" these days, it saved my reading life.  I took the (dreadfully small) insurance cheque and bought a cheap laptop, immediately installed the Kindle, Nook, and OverDrive apps, and got back to my bookworm life.

I am still recuperating as a reader.  I have books that still need to be replaced.  I am anxious to see what the November and December sales bring in terms of tablet discounts; hopefully I can get a new one.  I'll never get that journal back; that rips me apart more than anything.

But eBooks -- those things I once shunned and decried because it was the cool thing to do, I guess -- absolutely saved the day for me.  I actually read more now as my eBook usage proportion has gone up, plus I read more diverse books and pay closer attention through highlighting and notetaking (which I'd never even consider in a tangible book).  Those terrible, awful, no-good cheaters' "books" were the best thing I had after the fire -- other than my life, obviously -- and my far-greater appreciation for them has been an unexpected but beautiful gift in the aftermath.

Happy eBook Day, everybody.  Here's to many more.  And check your smoke detectors.

4 comments:

  1. OMG, Ashley! That's terrible! I'm glad that you were not hurt and commiserate with you on the loss of your books. What kind of books do you like/did you have? Maybe I could send you some of mine?

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  2. Oof, just reading about your burnt books made my stomach hurt. I suppose your blog is sort of the digital equivalent of your journal now? Best of luck in refilling your bookshelves!

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    1. Thanks, Abi. :) My blog is definitely part of it! And I can always look at things like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare if I want to see where I was and what I was up to on any given day. (Hooray narcissistic Internet age!) But actually, the best thing recently has been reviving my old LiveJournal...it feels very 2002 to be back there, but it turns out I still like it. :)

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  3. LuAnn, that's an incredibly sweet offer! But library book sales, eBook deals, my library, unglue.it, and a bunch of other sources have been great in helping me replace and borrow what was lost. But really, thank you. :)

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