Answering which is my favorite form of book is a question which has received many different answers throughout my life.
When I was younger the answer may have been audiobook. The Stephen Fry recordings of Harry Potter were not only fabulous, but also began my love for audiobooks. My mom always read to me as a child, and I can fall asleep listening to a book faster than anything else. The word read aloud become so soothing, so intoxicating, and I am almost certain that nothing sounds better. I get a feeling in my chest that tells me this is how stories were meant to be told. Learning about oral folktales just further cemented this belief, this recognition of a deep primal feeling I get when listening to a story.
Nowadays I do not have anyone read stories to me, except when I go home to my mom’s of course, but I listen to them while cooking cleaning my makeup brushes, and commuting. For these purposes, to engage my brain when it does work. There is an extent to which these takes make me happy, perfectly content to think less, to have a clear mind, but there are also times I want to be told a story. In summary? My feelings on audiobooks have changed as I have grown up, but what started out as passionate love affair, has turned into a longtime companion.
Onto the famous debate of e-books versus hard copies, I am deeply divided about this. I only began to read ebooks when I was in college, because they actually did not exist before. The primary use of it was to transport documents to and from classes and on the commute. I began a timid reader of ebooks, but became an avid fan. I distinctly remember trips where I would fill my carry on with used books, even though my parents had bought me an ebook reader to stop just these types of headaches. Now it is much easier to transport many books on an ebook reader and especially advance reads (thank you Netgalley). But I can never get physical books out of my system.
And I guess that is what it always boils down to. I love my Kindle dearly and it is so precious to me, but it will never replace old fashioned hard copy books. (And always paperback over hardbacks for some reason). Nothing can replace the feeling of paper in my hands, the feel of a page turning, or the satisfaction of finishing a book. It is about the enchanting feeling of the pages, smooth or slightly rough beneath my fingertips. It is more than the smell of books ranging from a crisp new book smell all the way to a musty distinct used book smell. Or it is that physical books shared between friends become traveling record, an indicator of the past, present, and future.
The very book you hold in your hand is a story in and of itself. It has a past, a previous lover who make have made that coffee ring in the cover, or a tender-hearted soul who bent the corner of that one page too many times. It has a present, a physical reminder of that moment, the transition of that second to the next as you turn the page and catch your breath. And it has a future, the life it will live after you close the back cover. A life lead on a shelf, passed to the next reader, donated to a library. To me, the physical book is the purest expression of a book because you hold so many more stories in your hand than the one on the pages.
The Short Summary
The tldr of this is? Well dear reader, I love each of them, the bewitching audiobook, the promising ebook reader, and the trusted paperback, for they each have a special place in my heart. I know you want me to pick just one-to give you a simple answer, a conclusion. And if you twist my arm enough, I will say paperback.
I can turn a paperback into an obsessive adventure tale with characters who leap off the page, a lifeline for a community of hungry readers, or even your best companion in a virtual world.You will always be able to find me on the floors of a used bookstore searching for my next traveling buddy, or with bookmarks falling out of my books marking passages of love and exquisite beauty, or finally asleep on the sofa with an almost empty cup of tea and a book held close to my chest, guarding me against the nightmares.