What I’m about to tell you, depending on how you feel about technology, may horrify you to your very core.
One of the ways I primarily interact with books (besides reading them, duh) is with my phone.
Cue the horror music.
Before I had a phone, I would bring a piece of paper and a pen to a bookstore. That way, I could just write down the title and the author and leave with a little list. If I forgot the paper (I almost always forgot the paper) I would write the names down on my arm. I’m pretty sure that ten- to fourteen-year-old me looked like a lunatic walking around the store scribbling on my arm. Or arms, plural, depending on how many books I wanted.
Since I have a phone, I don’t do that anymore. I just hold the book up and take a picture. (Making sure to get both the title and the author’s name, just in case there are multiple books that come up when I search for it later.) Sometimes I use the note section to write the title and author down but taking a picture is just so much easier. And that way, I can remember what the cover looks like and it’s more likely to catch my eye again in the store.
Catch me in your local bookstore taking a shelfie with the books I’m coming back for.
Of course, with a list of to-be-reads as long as mine, I don’t always have all the information on a book that I want. Since bookstores are organized by author and not title, it can be difficult finding the book I want if all I remember is the title. I could just ask an employee for help, but it’s so much easier to search the name of the book on my phone and find the author that way. I’ve gotten some dirty looks for looking at my phone when there are rows upon rows of books in front of me. There’s a sense of contempt that people will have for the person ignoring the books in favor of technology. But, trust me, the books are the endgame.
An app is also a great way to store your intended buys/reads on your phone. When the pictures of books begins to take over my storage space, I start adding the books to my Goodreads app and delete the picture. That happens a lot. I have a lot of books I want to read. Some of my friends are better about that system than I am, cataloguing their wish lists as they go, but if I’m finding five to ten books I want to buy every time I walk into a bookstore (that number may be lowballing it) then am I going to stand there and type out every title? No thank you, too many books, too little time.
And the dreaded social media. Some people have a problem with the fact that I take a picture of my books and post about them when I’ve just bought them or just finished them. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I will make the people I’m with wait while I take the picture if I find the perfect lighting (sorry Mom) but it’s a fun way to reach out to my friends. Everybody loves an artsy pic of a new book.
So yes, my phone and books have a direct relationship. I use my phone to find books and to catalogue them and I will almost always have my phone in hand while I’m walking around a bookstore. Unless I’ve gathered so many books that I need both hands to carry them. That is a regular occurrence. And maybe I’ll use my phone to post on social media about my purchases or reads, maybe with a little shout-out to the friend who recommended the book to me in the caption. But when I open the book and start to read, I put the phone away and it’s just me and the book.
Hannah Hohman is an editorial assistant at Foreword Reviews. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.