Saturday, June 7, 2014

Old Friends

I am a big fan of books. Y'know, books? They're roughly rectangular-shaped, usually come with colorful covers, and have pages that you actually turn by hand. They have a unique papery, inky smell that improves and deepens with time. Sound familiar? By the time my kids are reading this, I'm afraid  that books may be a thing of the past, like LP's and floppy discs. Everyone will just be glued to his or her electronic device, be it Kindle or iPad or, more likely, something brand new that hasn't been invented yet...People won't be able to hand off a well-loved book with coffee stains on the cover and dog-eared pages to a friend. We won't be able to buy a book from a musty, dusty secondhand book store, smell that uniquely "book-y" odor, read the personal dedication written on the inside cover and wonder about the backstory..... Who is "Aunt Marge" and is "Veronica" her favorite niece? Is that why she sent her this particular book? Are "Liz and Amy" still "Best friends forever"? Do they still share favorite books back and forth with one another? Is "Cheryl" still "Mark's one true love, always and truly"? (I get a kick out of imagining the stories behind the dedications!) You just don't get any of that from an e-book.

Now, in the spirit of brutal honesty, I have to admit that I have read a couple of books on my husband's Kindle and a couple more on my iPod. The convenience is nice, I'm not gonna lie. The back-lighting that means you don't have to turn the light on in the middle of the night when you're up with insomnia is kind of a sweet perk. And, at my age, being able to make the font bigger, so I don't have to find my elusive glasses or do that telescoping thing, where you're constantly moving the book towards you and away from you in little increments until your eyes can focus, is also kind of a sweet perk. Sigh. And, eBooks do save trees. It's hard to argue with that one.

But, it's just not the same... If you're escaping from life with a hot bath, a glass of wine, and a good book, and the book falls in the tub....No worries. It'll dry out, and the pages will have that nice, wrinkly, bumpy thing that will remind you, forevermore, of that relaxing time when you dropped it in the tub. You can't do that with your Kindle! And, as mentioned, above, you can't hand off a copy to a friend or leave it in the coffee shop or hotel for the next person to enjoy, which is one of my favorite things about books! You can't put it on a bookshelf with other well-loved tomes, where you can take a glance at your collection and immediately be transported back in time to the memories associated with the first time you read each one. Look, there's Watership Down, snuggled in between The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World and The Stand. And, there's The Far Arena, right next to The Lord of the Rings and Outlander. (Ahhh, my heart still flutters when I think of red-haired, Scottish Jamie...)

So, I guess I'm a hybrid. I will occasionally go the eBook route, but my heart will always belong to solid, old-fashioned, paper books. And, with that in mind, on this early Saturday morning, I'm going to put away my laptop, grab another cup of coffee, and curl up on the porch swing with my well-worn copy of Misery, which I'm reading for the umpteenth time, because Stephen King's writing just gets better the more you read it, as I watch my sleepy neighborhood (and my sleepy family) wake up and come to life...


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