The older I get, the more I dislike hardbound books. My latest read is Tom Clancy’s “Debt of Honor”, 766 pages of small type and too-slick handholds. The book weighs in a little over three pounds on my bathroom scale. I know because I checked the weight one night immediately after falling asleep. That was the same night I discovered paperback books don’t hurt nearly as much as hardbound ones when they come crashing down on your forehead as you slip into Never-Never Land. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “nodding off”.
Bulky, cranial-concussion-producing books, however, don’t have to merely disfigure to become obnoxious. Just trying to prop one up while reading in bed is bad enough. Three-pound dumbbells have a way of growing heavier when held at arm’s length. I’ve also discovered hardbound books are just as unfriendly when lying on one’s side: no matter which side it is, it’s the wrong side every time you turn to a new page.
Odd, even. Right hand, left hand. Left eye, right eye. This page, that page. The sheer physics of it is poetic: odd and even pages are always equally spaced. This assures that finger cramping — like twin gravitational fields from two moons tugging at a tidal swell — is equally balanced among left hand and right hand reading positions. Usually, differences between paperback and hardbound reading material are most evident late at night, when the urge to read either becomes a cure for insomnia, or a hyperactive companion to a late night rendezvous with Mr. Coffee.
To be honest, I doubt I’ll make it through the hardbound edition of Debt of Honor this time around. I’d much rather wake up in the morning with a musty-smelling paperback accordion nestled softly across my face.