My clock read 5 a.m., and I felt dizzy staring at my phone for hours. Having stretched out on the bed for a long time, not even getting up to take a bathroom break, my bones ached after a several hours of reading. At around 11 p.m., I started to devour the newly released book from my favorite young adult series. It was good. It was cathartic. It was my escape from the dreary events of everyday life — until my body told me to give it up and try again tomorrow. Or tonight. I didn’t know, my body clock was messed up.
That’s how I remember my nights during college a lifetime ago. I used to stay up all night reading ebooks on my phone. I was such a heavy reader back then that no one would be able to talk to me for several hours in the morning. But alas, gone were those days when all I do was curl up with a good book and forget the world for a while. When I entered the corporate world months later, my reading life definitely tanked.
There were books from series unfinished and forgotten. Whenever I got home from work, I couldn’t muster the courage to pick them up or even load them on up my phone. In rare moments that I successfully did, I fell asleep easily or my head spun. Having a short attention span, I was also easily distracted. Sure, I could have tried audiobooks, but it wasn’t yet on my radar at the time. And even though I discovered audiobooks soon after, they are a completely different format. I wanted to actively engage my mind; I didn’t want someone to read to me.
For months, having been out of the loop from the bookish world, not having read anything buzzworthy, I felt like a fraud. Am I still a reader if I’m not actively reading at all?
The turning point came when I saw an old Kindle Paperwhite ad somewhere. “Unlike tablets, Kindle is glare-free,” it promised. What’s not to love there? It’s portable and lightweight. It could very well save my life. So in 2017, I bought my very first Kindle Paperwhite. The day I picked up at the mall, taking a lunch break from work, I knew I would fall in love with it. I knew it would dramatically restart my reading life.
And so, it did.
At lunch, I read. Before work, I dared a couple of taps (because there are no pages when it comes to ebooks, right?). During train rides, I also snuck in short reading sessions. I didn’t do all these with my phone. Paperwhite is a dedicated reading device, plain and vanilla; it was just the perfect gadget for me. When I used to read on my phone, even though it was on silent mode and the wifi was off, I was easily distracted. I felt compelled to check notifications and reply to quick messages of party invitations.
After some time though, the refurbished Paperwhite I bought was getting laggy, bulky, and clunky. So I sold it off to a friend in the hopes of upgrading to the pricier Kindle Oasis. But there’s a bit of a problem: It’s not accessible to where I live. I’m not from the United States, so getting a Kindle Oasis would take months, not days. Aside from the heftier price tag, I would also have to pay for the shipping cost, which is not cheap. And when I finally had the resources to check it out of my Amazon cart, I was hit by a snag: it was sold out.
So I went on for many years ereader-less. As someone who was used to its comfort, my reading life had significantly become sluggish again. I tried to fill the void by hoarding paperbacks and hardcovers. But after reading some of them, my hands would ache; they were too heavy for long reading sessions. I couldn’t also bring them during travels. Yes, I dabbled into audiobooks for a while, however expensive they were. But I came crawling back to the world of written word. Sorry!
I desperately needed to quench the reading dry spell.
In late 2021, I settled with the newer model of the Kindle Paperwhite, having it shipped all the way to the Philippines. When it finally arrived weeks later, it felt like the first time owning an ereader. I became very excited each time with my reading time.
Reading on my Kindle Paperwhite has removed the one thing that we all have these days: distraction. I’ve come to associate my phone as a place to talk to friends and catch up with emails. And so when I read using my phone, there’s always a compulsion to check for notifications. I was restless, always having the dreaded FOMO. But when the distraction was finally out of the picture, I got to focus more on what’s important. Finding out that I read more on an ereader, I’ve also learned some things about myself — what kind of habits I should be adopting to read effectively.
Whoever struggles with reading right now might just need to invest in a good ol’ ereader. It is, by no means, a miracle. But it has worked out well for me, and maybe it might work for you, too.