A while ago I wrote a post about how I would always choose the paper book over an e-reader (such as a tablet, nook or kindle). I was wrong. I bought an iPad two weeks ago and since then have read several books, more than I would have managed otherwise.
My long-awaited copy of The Humans has just arrived – a great big chunk of hardback – and I’m wondering why I didn’t buy the kindle edition. I just don’t know when I’m going to manage to read it. It’s too big to fit in my handbag, I can’t read it at bedtime because the bedside light is broken, and, well, it’s too beautiful to besmirch with toast crumbs and crayon.
We are going on holiday to Scotland next week and I know that The Humans will stay behind, even though I’m desperate to read it. It isn’t merely about packing room – although with two kids that’s pretty tight – it’s the fact that I won’t be able to read it discreetly while the kids are playing, or during the seven-hour trip in the car (for some reason I find I can read the iPad in the car, but not a paper book).
So, in all fairness, I thought I ought to confess my conversion and explain the reasons I love my iPad for reading:
- I can read while still cuddling both children (with the occasional wriggle to turn the page)
- I never ever have to find my place because the kids have removed the bookmark or it has fallen out. I turn it on and there it is – hours of reading time saved.
- I can take it everywhere and read a bit while I’m waiting for a website to load or when the kids are asleep
- The kids don’t notice me reading so much and so are less likely to bring one of their own books over to read (I didn’t say this was about good parenting, did I?)
- I’ve already read at least one free book I would never have heard of otherwise. And it was lovely – not earth shattering or award winning but a lovely thought-provoking story
- I can show people the books I’ve written when I tell them I’m an author, instead of explaining they’re not available in print
- I can finally read all the ebooks I’ve downloaded over the last year
- I can read at nighttime without waking my husband.
I also love the iPad too – for checking emails, taking pictures for the blog, entertaining the children (we’re busily downloading from bbc iplayer for the long trip north) – but that’s a different story!
I still find it hard to buy the kindle version when the paperback isn’t much more expensive. If I want to lend a book it has to be a hard copy. I continue to love borrowing books from the library and seeing books around me on the shelves. They are beautiful. But, here and now, the iPad rules! (Sorry)
And to prove how much I love my iPad, I’ve spashed some cash to buy the ebook version of The Humans. Problem solved. Matt Haig’s lovely book is coming to Scotland after all! Hurrah!
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Claire was conscious of nerves as she waited on the doorstep. Things had been strained between her and Ruth since the revelations about Chris and the ballet teacher. Even so, it hurt to be saying goodbye to her sister and her niece. The week in the hospital, reading on the bed next to Ruth, entertaining Sky in the canteen or taking her to the park, had been strangely restful.
The week was spent encased in a cocoon of waiting: Ruth had responded well to treatment and the days were merely marking time until the doctors said she was strong enough to return home. Claire had enjoyed helping Sky complete the remainder of her homework. They had even written a letter to Sky’s father, although Claire had felt a stab of guilt, knowing she wasn’t brave enough to tell her sister about it.
Claire stood waiting for her mother or Sky to open the door. Even though she had stayed with Sky at her house for the week, now Ruth was home it felt impolite simply to walk in.
In the back of her mind she remembered the last time she had waited in the same spot, when she had come to look after Sky, the day of the hospital tests. Blimey that was nearly two months ago. In some ways it felt like only days before. In others ways, a lifetime had passed. She had experienced so much, travelling with Josh and looking after Sky. That morning’s conversation with her father still echoed in her mind.
How little we really know our family. Look at what I’ve discovered in a few weeks, that I hadn’t realised in nearly three decades: My brother and his perfect wife aren’t so perfect, Ruth’s ex isn’t a bastard but actually a doting dad, my father is writing a novel – a thriller for goodness sake – and hiding it from his wife. He hates golf. And Mum spends her time keeping up with the Jones’s to forget she used to be her husband’s secretary. You couldn’t make it up. We’re living an episode of Days of Our Lives.
Hearing footsteps thundering down the corridor, Claire braced herself for a whirlwind of blonde hair and beads. At least Sky hasn’t changed.
Claire held her sister tightly, aware only now of how awful it would be to lose her. She knew, too, that when Ruth was better they would never be quite as close as they were at this moment. Even the betrayal of introducing Sky to her half-sister was forgotten.
“Stay well, sis. Be strong. If you need anything, call me.” Claire spoke deep into her sister’s shoulder, where her hair would once have been. All that tickled her neck was the floral scarf tied tightly round Ruth’s head. Words that couldn’t be said face to face could be whispered cheek to cheek.
“You have an amazing daughter. Thank you for letting me get to know her better.” She stood back, tears blurring her vision. “I promise I’ll call more often, and I’ll stop by when I head south again. It won’t take long to get through the hostels on the east coast I didn’t get to with Sky.”
Ruth squeezed Claire’s arms, then let them drop as she reached for a tissue. “Thank you for everything, sis. Sorry I got upset about the whole Chris thing. I know you were in an impossible situation. And, well, if the worst does happen.” She stopped, unable to say the unthinkable words.
Claire was glad they remained unspoken. In the whole week she had spent in the hospital with Ruth, they had never talked about what might happen. While Ruth was responding to treatment it seemed like tempting fate to discuss the future.
“Try and enjoy your travels. I know it isn’t what you wanted, but you seem…” Ruth searched for a word. “You’re more alive, since you started the trip. When you looked after Sky in February you looked tight and tired and, I don’t know, somehow bitter at life. Now, well actually now you still look tired.” She laughed. They both knew what looking after Sky was like. “But it’s different. It’s a lack of sleep because my niece was up all night tired.”
The words seemed to run out and Ruth let them trail away. Even though the doctors had sent her home, she still looked exhausted. Claire gave her another hug, then turned to where Sky was snuggled up with Nana in the armchair, her face wet and blotchy.
“Come here, Sky, give Auntie Claire a cuddle.”
The girl hesitated, them scrambled down and ran across the room, sobbing.
“Don’t go, Auntie Claire. Please.”
“I have to poppet. I’m not ready to be fired just yet, and my mean old boss won’t let me take any more holiday.”
Sky clung tightly to Claire’s neck, and she was conscious of a warm sensation deep in her heart. She no longer wanted to shake her off.
“I’ll be back soon. You take care of your Mummy, okay, and do what Nana tells you. I’ll call and find out what your teacher thought of your story.”
Pulling the thin arms away from her neck as gently as she could, Claire took Sky’s hand and led her back to sit with Nana. Then with a quick wave and no more words, she hurried from the room, swallowing down the lump stuck deep in her throat.