Our Reading Lives

On Reading My First Ebook

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Connie Pan

Senior Contributor

Connie Pan is a writer and editor from Maui, Hawai‘i. She earned an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University and a BA in creative writing from Grand Valley State University. Her writing has appeared in Bamboo Ridge, Carve, HelloGiggles, PRISM International, The Billfold, and elsewhere. An excerpt from her novel-in-progress was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Instagram: @csnpan Twitter: @panlikepeter

It felt like a mistake. After finishing—and loving—I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell, I thought I bought a physical copy of Women. While completing my order, I sensed a difference, refreshed my email account again and again, waiting for a shipping confirmation in vain. Even though the downloads hung there on my laptop screen. Even though I’ve read a Poets & Writers article on Emily Books, who awesomely “publishes, publicizes, and celebrates the best work of transgressive writers of the past, present and future.” With subsequent purchases, I imagine glee will replace my confusion.

Akwaeke Emezi Freshwater coverOf my first ebook, I loved how I wanted, purchased, and started reading immediately. I bought Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi the same day. (By the time the novel wound through my neighborhood, I had finished Women.) During lunch, I indulged three times in my cubicle. They say three makes a pattern, so I guess I’m ereading now. I love that ebooks don’t add extra weight to my bag. I don’t have to remember to stick them in my purse. And yet, I’m sad I can’t bend pages, return to dog-ears. It hadn’t occurred to me that I would miss feeling what I have finished in my left hand and what I have to look forward to in my right.

Once my soul sister showed me her copy of Women over our to-do list for the summer weekend, green moonstones, and little whiskey drinks with burnt lime. We leaned forward, meeting in the middle of her high-top table against the window, to gaze at the worn copy, how it showed her reading journeys. “I think I folded every page in that book,” she said and restates.

Remembering that, I copy, paste, and email her a paragraph about “wallowing” as I finish it:

“I get drunk and high like in high school. I smoke weed out of a can, I drink wine out of a box. I used to be more hardcore in my self-destruction, but I am back to basics now. I develop a nap habit for the first time in my life. I’m a proper hedonist. I do most things I can without getting out of bed. I buy one dollar pizza from 7-Eleven where the guy tells me it is two dollars for two slices. I hide the pizza in my purse while I walk home because no one wants to be friends with someone who eats 7-Eleven pizza.”

I love the the repetition of I. She loves the purse-pizza.

Imbolo Mbue Behold The Dreamers coverI finish the autobiographical novella in one week. A juggler of books, its companions, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue and Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han, stay close to my nightstand. Sometimes I carry them to the living room, but Women I read while I slurp instant soup and shovel leftover Chinese takeout under fluorescent lights on weekdays, before and after I edit my manuscript on weeknights and weekends. It’s not that I prefer this book over the others. Behold the Dreamers I want to savor. Three nights in a row, I stay up late to finish Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Having Women on two laptops makes it accessible on a whim.

Elissa Washuta My Body Is A Book Of Rules coverIn an interview with Paige Cohen for Lambda Literary, Caldwell says, “I think it’s so magical when you find some new kind of art, and once you start opening your eyes to it, you start seeing it everywhere.” Yes. Already, I’m reading my second ebook, another Emily Books title, My Body Is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta. By the way, glee did replace my confusion.