I once shouted that e-readers were humanity’s ruin, then later wrote a love letter to my Kindle. I’m back aboard the paper-and-binding express these days, but I totally see the merit of ebooks: You’ve got unlimited books for a long trip! You can hide your utter stupidity for still being on last month’s YA-dystopian franchise! You can publicly read Moby Dick when you’re home on summer break and not have drinks thrown at you for looking like a dick!
Whether you’re into e-readers to save paper or just to avoid the typeface of Infinite Jest, you’re still reading a book and that’s great. But even if your tablet is your mistresses, some books just need the ol’ fashioned treatment. If you’ve found yourself swiping and tapping too much, you may just want to plunge into these books that offer no other choice than to be literal page-turners.
1. S by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
Like all things Abrams, S is dripping with mysteries, conspiracies and questions. Its jist is that you’re reading an old library copy of another book, Ship of Theseus, that may’ve been created as an espionage tool by its illustrious author. Two bookworm sleuths (and hopeful lovers!) have scribbled notes and theories in the yellowing pages’ margins and stuffed the book with physical newspaper clippings, postcards and other literary detritus. It’s catered to win the hearts of any book lover, and the ride’s a blast. The thrill of literati spies just wouldn’t feel the same with an off switch.
2. Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
Sure, that other Danielewski book about leaves and a house would also lose its charm in eBook form, but this one would be a bigger loss. The road trip tale is told from two points of view, written in free verse poetry and time-stamped current event headlines. Because the text size shrinks one way and grows in another, you have to physically flip and rotate the book on numerous occasions. To say the least, it’d be a real pain in the ass if your iPad kept trying to reorient the screen for you.
3. The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
Our heroes are on the run from a “conceptual fish” that hunts memories. (These books never have clear summaries, do they?) If Terry Gilliam and Jaws had a love baby, it would recommend picking up this book in person as the text actually crumbles into different shapes — and into a flipbook at one mind-bending point! Would you want to have someone flip the flipbook for you? No flippin’ way.
4. Landscape Painted with Tea by Milorad Pavić
If you need to up your cred at a dinner party or get people to stop listening to you at brunch, casually whip out a book by this Serbian author. Pavić’s stories have been told in a variety of formats: as dictionaries, as a sequence of Tarot cards or, in this case, a crossword puzzle. Don’t ask, even though it’s a totally valid question. Just read it.
5. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The author — and yes, his first name is indeed Ransom — collected an array of really creepy old photographs; these images became the impetus and a running narrative for this book, which features a whole host of them. Pair the haunting imagery with the book’s beautiful presentation, and this is a ghost story you should read under the bed covers with a flashlight. (And fine, the flashlight can be your iPhone.)
6. Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock
Epistolary novels range from the letters in Dracula to the emails in this past March’s The Divorce Papers, but the Griffin & Sabine trilogy brings fictional correspondence to more intimate heights as the letters between its characters come with illustrations and are sealed in real envelopes. If you, too, find sick pleasure in reading other people’s mail, you may do so here without consequence!
7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Reading a book about book burnings on your Nook? Missing the point.
Where do you stand on the great ebook debate, dear readers? Could you justify tablet versions of all books or the destruction of all Kindles? Sound off in the comments below.
Alex Trivilino grew up in Pittsburgh, went to college in Boston and now hikes around Los Angeles. He enjoys maps, pies and mysteries, and is currently seeking an academic nemesis. Favorite his tweets, but only if you want to.
KEEP READING: More on Books