I threw out my Kindle. Nothing compares to a paper book.

Using a digital tablet
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  • I got a Kindle so my partner could sleep while I read at night.

  • I downloaded books to keep me company since I'm a night owl.

  • The experience of reading on Kindle was disappointing, and I missed physical books.

It was 2 a.m. My side light was on, and my partner was wrestling with sleep beside me. I knew I should turn off the light to allow him to settle into a deep slumber, but selfishly, I was gripped by "After Dark" by Murakami. His book was an intense trip through a surreal night in neon-lit Tokyo, and I was completely captivated by the liminal vibe.

"When are you going to turn off the light?" I heard my partner say beside me, with a justifiably grumpy tone. I was eating into his sleep time and he had work later in the morning. I instantly felt a pang of guilt for reading so late, so I put my book down, turned off the light, and went to sleep.

Over the next few days, I started researching the Amazon Kindle as a convenient remedy for reading at night. It ticked all the right boxes–it saved money and space, it gave me unbridled access to a wide range of books, it was portable, and it also had useful features like font customization. I was convinced and purchased one.

At first, I was excited

Once it arrived, I spent time downloading a bunch of fiction novels and relished in the fact that, as a night owl, I no longer had to choose between reading and letting my partner sleep. I could finally read in the dark. The Kindle was lightweight and gentle on my eyes. Perfect.

I went on a binge read and was easily going through one book every two to three days with the Kindle. It made reading so efficient and streamlined. However, something felt off. Reading an entire book on a digital device felt unnatural and impersonal.

Though I tried, I couldn't maintain focus. Full immersion into stories was difficult, and I found myself unable to recall certain parts. I could never quite get into stories the same way. And it's not just me — a 2014 study found that Kindle readers absorb less than on paper, and a 2019 study found that Kindle readers performed worse when measuring chronology and temporality.

I always knew a Kindle would be a hard sell for me because there's something uniquely special about the tactile nature of physical books. The sound of turning each page. The feeling of a book's crisp, textured pages. The delicate process of folding the corners of pages as bookmarks. Not to mention the earthy, nostalgic smell of a book.

I wasn't enjoying reading

It didn't take long to realize that reading, and how much I enjoy a book, was largely dependent on my other senses being engaged. This was something that a Kindle couldn't replicate.

Growing up, my favorite books were "Chocolat" by Joanne Harris and "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden. I distinctly remember how I felt when I first read them, the words turning into vivid images in my mind, latching onto every description, every dialogue, eagerly awaiting the next page.

But when I tried to reread both books on my Kindle, the experience was disappointingly lackluster. I didn't feel the same emotion and connection as I once did to the characters and story. I ultimately came to the conclusion that the Kindle created too much detachment for me, so it had to go.

I've always felt a deep, personal connection to printed materials, so I wasn't surprised when I fell out of love with the Kindle after less than a year. I'm the kind of person who is guilty of choosing a book from a bookstore or library just because I like the cover design, the text formatting inside, or the type of binding used on the spine. The Kindle didn't offer me that aesthetic thrill.

While I do sometimes miss the fact that I could literally bring my entire library with me on the go, I'll never underestimate the experience of reading a beautifully printed physical book.

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