Coffee Stained Books

The other day my professor began talking about her love for books. Not virtual books on a Nook or Kindle, but actual physical books. She was just casually talking to the class about it while waiting for the last remaining students to shuffle in, but her entire demeanor changed while talking about this love of hers.

She was telling us how you can scribble all over them, spill coffee on the pages, bend the corners to mark your place, and make it yours. I’ve always preferred the real deal over virtual reading. I’ve debated about purchasing a Kindle in the past, but something always stops me and I could never explain what that deal breaker was. Yet, there it was. There was the answer. You can make a book your own. You’re allowed to bend the corners and scribble in it and spill stuff over it and tatter the pages from reading it over and over again. The book slowly shapes into your personality and merges into your world. A virtual book just doesn’t do that.

The virtual book sits inside a screen with random highlighted sections that can be erased at any given time. It feels distant, like it isn’t a part of you. It’s part of the virtual world and it will always remain in that virtual world. You’ll never get to enjoy the pleasurable scent of a new book. The aroma of fresh paper and untampered ink mixed into soft, touchable pages. The excitement of turning a page to reveal a hidden secret or travel to a new location. The caution of covering up the last paragraph so as not to spoil the ending while you’re still digesting words at the top of the page. To be able to feel a book in your hands without worrying about the battery life or looking for an outlet. To just grab a chunk of paper and words and cuddle up on the sofa. Rain taps the window while you escape reality for a couple of hours.

Not to mention the exploration of a bookstore. I love walking into Barnes & Noble as the scent of coffee wraps itself around me. I love walking through the maze of books and flipping through them, admiring the artwork on the cover, noticing a favored author’s name under one, and witnessing all the stories that people want to tell. Going to the bookstore is one of my favorite things in the world to do. I dread the thought of losing that experience that by switching over to the cold, virtual world where books don’t seem to hold the same meaning.

I thought that I was the only one who felt this way about books so I was pleasantly shocked when my classmates began chiming in with the professor. One guy sitting in front of me mentioned that he liked the feeling of collecting something. When he has physical books he can look at his collection and it feels real, but when he has a collection on a Nook, it doesn’t holding the same feeling. The books are just there on a tablet rather than a shelf filled with coffee stained adventures.

I’m not saying technology is bad, but books should remain in the real world. They should remain on shelves so people can make them their own. They should be scribbled in with ideas and quotes that have affected a person or changed them. People should be able to have the fascination of wandering through a labyrinth of stories rather than scrolling through a straight pathway of titles. Books should be stained with thoughts, admiration, and coffee. They should become yours because they’re an experience. They’re loyal and don’t require batteries. You can always pick one up and start reading and no matter what the story and the characters will always be there waiting for you to come back. Your stains only show how much you appreciate those stories and how much they’ve influenced you or comforted you during a rough time in your life. Books are amazing and I hope that they will always remain coffee stained.