I dread that awkward moment when a friend hands you the book that changed his or her life, and it is a book that you have despised since you were 11 years old. Yes, “Atlas Shrugged.” Or worse, “The Fountainhead.” No, actually, let’s stick with “Atlas Shrugged.” People fixated on a particular book cannot get it through their heads that, no matter how much this book might mean to them, it is impossible to make someone else enjoy “A Fan’s Notes” or “The Little Prince” or “Dune,” much less “One Thousand and One Places You Must Visit Before You Meet the Six People You Would Least Expect to Run Into in Heaven.” Not unless you get the Stasi involved.

Close friends rarely lend me books, because they know I will not read them anytime soon. I have my own reading schedule—I hope to get through another 2,137 books before I die—and so far it has not included time for “The Audacity of Hope” or “The Whore of Akron,” much less “Father John: Navajo Healer.” I hate having books rammed down my throat, which may explain why I never liked school: I still cannot understand how one human being could ask another to read “Death of a Salesman” or “Ethan Frome” and then expect to remain on speaking terms…

Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who have clutter issues, or who don’t want other people to see that they are reading books about parallel universes where nine-eyed sea serpents and blind marsupials join forces with deaf Valkyries to rescue high-strung albino virgins from the clutches of hermaphrodite centaurs, but they are useless for people engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on. Books that make us believe, for however short a time, that we shall all live happily ever after.