I’ve spent a lot of time in waiting rooms lately, and like many of the people sitting quietly around me, I found myself turning to my phone for entertainment. I was a long-time holdout when it came to smartphones, telling myself it was an expense I didn’t need, a distraction I couldn’t justify. And then, nine months ago, my grandson was born. And he lives some 1400 miles away from me. And suddenly those i-messaged photos and live facetime became too tempting to resist. When my son did a smartphone upgrade, I inherited his older model, and now I have to admit I’m a convert. The facetime is my favorite feature, of course — though watching my grandbaby growing and changing on a tiny screen is bittersweet.
In those waiting rooms, the entertainment I access most often on my phone, no surprise, is the free Kindle app. How many times during past years have I found myself spending long blocks of time in waiting rooms and hadn’t remembered to bring a book? Reading the two-year-old gossip magazines around me or the crumpled newspaper someone had left behind. Sometimes scribbling in a notebook, though I can’t usually write in public places with too many distractions. Or the wait lasted longer than I expected and I finished the book I brought, and couldn’t, of course, carry my entire TBR pile with me. The Kindle Fire I received for Christmas a couple of years ago has been a joy, but I don’t always have it in my purse — and I always have my phone. Which means, I am literally never without a book. Not only a book — my entire ebook library! Finish one? Start another. Not in the mood for this one? Try that one. Can’t concentrate on a new story? Spend a few minutes immersed in an old favorite, just for a brief visit with those old friends (yes, I’ve purchased a few of my treasured bookshelf “keepers” in ebook format just so I always have them with me). My only limit now is battery life, a frustration in itself, of course.
I can’t help thinking back to my childhood, when my friends and brothers teased me for never leaving the house without a book. Like most book addicts, not having one nearby always made me itchy — and that hasn’t changed with maturity. All three of my children were readers, but my middle daughter, Kerry, was the one who was never seen without a book in her hands, to the extent that she was known to walk into a few walls in her time. She still loves the feel of a “real” book (though as a new mom and medical resident, her pleasure reading time is quite limited for now), but she commented recently that she reads on her phone or tablet when she’s holding a sleeping baby and has only one hand free. My other daughter reads on her phone or tablet during otherwise boring bus commutes to work.
There was a time I wondered if the new electronic options would limit reading, but for me, at least, they have given me more opportunities to escape into a book. The boring waiting nook where I get my oil changed and tires rotated, with nothing but old sports, mechanics and hunting and fishing magazines available? I can slip away to a windswept beach where two lovers try to outwit their evil pursuer. Hospital waiting room with sneezing, coughing bench mates and a silly cartoon blaring from an overhead TV? Time to go off-planet for a futuristic romp with animated dust bunnies. Waiting in the car while hubs checks out yet another woodworking supplies store? I’m in New York in the future where a tough female lieutenant solves murders with her sexy Irish billionaire spouse. Mystery, romance, sci-fi, drama, family sagas or whimsical comedies — all within that roughly four-by-two inch little box. Maybe it wasn’t such a splurge, after all! (But the best thing in there is still the collection of my grandson’s photos.)
Since I’m talking ebooks, I should probably insert a plug here — Almost all my titles are available for Kindle, Nook and other ereaders, the majority for less than $3. Click the “Books” tab above for links.
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