I don’t want digital comics because I love the physical object, hate computers and get all my favourite ideas from a printed page, but my wife’s primary reason for not buying an e-reader is that she would always be worrying about it.
She doesn’t want to sit by a pool in Fiji with the device, because she wouldn’t be comfortable leaving a piece of sweet technology lying out in the open when she goes for a swim or gets a cocktail, but she’ll leave that surprisingly high-brow paperback romance sitting there.
So yeah - we’re off to Fiji next week, and I’m leaving the laptop at home, because even though it’s got hundreds of hours of brilliant movies and TV shows and games, from the Venture Bros to O Lucky Man! to Grand Theft Auto, I just can’t be fucked taking care of it.
Instead, I’m going to take a couple of paperback books. Something dense and entertaining. I have an irrational fear of running out of things to read, and when I’m in a non-English speaking country, I am constantly considering how much reading material I’ve got.
Even with two or three books in reserve, I wonder if I’ve got enough. Even when I’ve got massive books to get through. (The best traveling book I’ve ever had was Robert Fisk’s The Great War For Civilisation, because that fucker took me weeks to get through on those long and endless European motorways.)
We’re only away on a short trip this time, but after literally weeks of consideration, I’ve got it sorted. Almost. I’m taking A Game Of Thrones, because I’m still a little bit obsessed with the TV show, and Lance Parkin’s aHistory, an almost complete history of the Doctor Who universe. Both will take me hours and hours to read…
The Martin book is 800 pages of close text, so that should last a few days and I already know the Parkin book can keep me going – I read it all through a two-week trip around the States, and I didn’t even get to the UNIT years.
I’m genuinely conflicted about the third choice – a recently-purchase copy of David Simon and Ed Burns’ The Corner or the new edition of Kim Newman’s brilliant Anno Dracula I just got?
Probably both – that way I’m guaranteed to never run out of something to read on those big, empty Pacific Island beaches.
I also have to take some comics, because I always need some comics. It’s an addiction. I can’t go a week without comics, and sometimes it’s just what I need. I got a bit emotional reading For The Love Of Carmen on hilltop near a Mongolian lake, and recovering from food poisoning in the Gobi Desert – 300km away from the nearest sit-down toilet in a country with no roads – was made a tiny bit easier by the JLA/Hitman comic by Ennis and McCrea.
I need them, but I don’t need much and you just don’t require tonnes of material, a couple of issues is enough and I get an inordinate amount of pleasure in picking and choosing. The Tank’s DARK KNIGHT TOO of some issues of Dork? Or both? Something with superheroes, or something with a real emotional truth that will make me cry when I’ve had too many cocktails on the beach?
All these issues could be resolved with an e-reader loaded up with all sorts of wonderful stuff, but where is the fun in that? Books don’t take up that much room in your pack, despite what tech-heads tell you. If a paperback in the pack is too heavy, you might as well stay at home, because there are much harder things to deal with on a decent overseas trip.
This isn’t normal, is it? Even the wife, who is uncommonly excited about a couple of chunky Charlaine Harris books that she is taking, listens to me babble on and on about this shit, gives me that look that makes me realise I should just stop talking about this endless contemplation.
But I take my entertainments seriously. I can’t help it. I’ve got the attention span of a three-year-old hopped up on his first decent dose of sugar sometimes. I thought you were supposed to grow out of this shit, but it hasn’t happened yet.
There is no rush for that, nor for a desperate grab for new technology. I can take my big and funky paperback books on these trips, and I don’t have to worry about dropping them in the pool, or charging them up, or having them stolen. They’re just books, and while they are everything to me, they are also easily replaceable.
So yeah, off to Fiji, back in August, and fuck the future.