Identity and the Books we Read

One of my friends is constantly reinventing herself. Every time she does so, she gets books written by people on the lifestyle she’s embraced, finds sites on the topic, and basically makes an effort to understand the community–what she should expect from it and what it expects from her.

I don’t understand this. First generation child of immigrants with a strong cultural heritage, raised vegetarian and confident–I’ve never felt the need to understand my own identity. It didn’t even occur to me to identify with any specific culture until the end of high school, in fact, and I’ve never taken it very far (except when it lets me be superciliously amused at the silliness of Americans).


Nevertheless, it’s something to think about. A lot of people who, for instance, decide to write a book will read all about the process of writing from bona fide professional authors. They’ll find blogs about writing and maybe even start their own, and in this day and age with a little good sense they’ll hop on websites or Twitter to talk with other people sticking their feet in the water.

Blatant referencing to the demographic of you aside, words still define us in a lot more detail than television ever could. We don’t expect reality or honesty from the teevee, we don’t expect to learn from clips on YouTube–but people trust the written word. Consider the huge scandals that happen every time it turns out someone who wrote a harrowing memoir was just making it all up.


So will e-books change this? Will the loss of tangibility make a difference–do we experience greater impact from something we can actually hold?


I don’t know! You tell me. (Especially if you own an e-book, because I’d love to hear how that’s going and whether or not you’d still buy print books.)

I never emphasize this enough, but I really do want to hear what you have to say.


2 thoughts on “Identity and the Books we Read

  1. I’m going to buy an e-reader only because the shipping cost for books is astronomical. Otherwise, I’d stick with plain old paper and ink. I can see myself now, trying to turn pages where there are none.

    • I live near Chicago, so I frequent used bookstores. Also, free shipping on purchases over $25…oddly, I’m out of bookshelf space again. 😀

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