When I die, aside from requesting to be either frozen, shot into space, or mummified and placed in a mausoleum or museum on display, I would also accept having a library of books be built around my remains. A monument to me! Surround me in that which I love the most! No, not the remains of family members. Those people all want to be buried in dirt and that simply does not interest me.
Ever since I was 5 and could read on my own I have had my head in books. And I’m not alone! It seems despite what is indicated by the demise of Border’s, and possible demise of Barnes and Noble, that everyone is still in love with reading. One need only visit said bookstore on a Saturday to see this is the case. And yes, they are buying books not just making lists of what to go home and order from Amazon as we are constantly led to believe.
There is a large contingency of die-hard enthusiasts of tangible, physical books. I am with them, nothing feels quite so good as the crack of an unbroken spine as you open the story you have chosen to immerse yourself in. No physical harm quite as enjoyable as being so unwilling to stop reading a good book that you drop a heavy hardcover on your face as you doze off, thus jerking yourself awake only to read more and repeat. I experienced this every time a new Harry Potter release came out and I joined the throngs of uber-fans who stood outside Borders at midnight to get my copy so I could read it all that evening, or morning rather. It was so worth the three day recovery required to reset myself.
Despite all that love for holding books, I have also grown to love my Kindle. I completely understand the apprehension some feel about going digital. We have been forced to adapt to a lot of technological changes in the last 10-15 years. I myself was very resistant to e-readers and only succumbed when I received one as a gift. Having gone through life dragging stacks of books around with me everywhere I go, just in case a moment becomes available I then have them all right there with me, being able to keep 70 books in one little compact carrier that I can switch out at whim is beyond convenient.
But leaving behind books is like saying goodbye to your childhood. It’s too hard for me. Some people are able to walk away without a second thought, others cling to them like a security blanket they can’t sleep without. (In the interest of full disclosure I did not stop dragging around my security blanket until I was 28-years-old.) I firmly believe there is a place for both mediums in the present and the future.
Maybe it’s the archivist in me that can’t stand the thought of having no written records to preserve our times, or perhaps it’s the writer in me that shudders at the thought of only typing my words and never feeling again the satisfying scratch and glide of sharp pencil on crisp paper. (Though to be fair, this typewriter holder for the iPad is beyond awesome and could make me forget said pencil..nope, the amusement only lasted a second. Pencil wins.)
Why, then, invest in both mediums? Why continue to spend hard earned money on physical books that by comparison are more expensive and take up precious space?
I’ve been pondering these questions for a while and ultimately it was my 6-year-old, a child of the hand-held device era, that showed me why I will never be able to give up the physical printed word. He is admittedly a bit young for Harry Potter but I’ve been reading it to him anyway because, selfishly, I want to experience it again and see him experience it for the first time right. now.
At this age he believes wands have magic, the pieces in the wizard chess set at the bookstore will move on their own wherever we command them when we take them out of the box, and that somewhere in the universe Harry is having real adventures (and no doubt thinking he could too:)
When I finish a chapter at night and close the book he often asks to hold it. It’s not a picture book, he’s not looking for clues as to what will happen next. Books are alive! You can feel it even after you close the pages. He wants to hold it because he wants to feel the story. To keep that feeling of wonder and magic that he loves going until we pick up where we left off and continue on with the tale. I just don’t think he will feel the same reading books from any kind of ‘device’ other than a book itself.
A scary book practically commands you to burn it so you can erase the disturbing images out of your head, an adventure book can make you want to quit your job and start searching the world for treasures, a funny book can bring you back from the brink of depression, they all can move you. They have life!
When I turn off my Kindle at night I usually put it as far away from me as possible so I don’t get some creepy form of face cancer. Yeah, my Kindle is alive too-in a Frankenbook sort of way.
“Night night Kindle, thanks for the story”
“Rarrr, face cancer”
Today when I went to the bookstore. I looked at covers, read descriptions, held the books in my hands. I browsed the sections I love and found so many amazing looking books! I can’t bring myself to have the same experience browsing online, even with the friendly suggestions of Amazon and others. I never know what I’m in the mood for until I hold it. It is an experience that brings me peace, brings me back to center and has always been, and I pray always will be, my ‘therapy.’ It is my happy place!
We are all ninjas in our mind, we have all been CIA agents, gladiators, medieval lords and ladies, magicians, and yes we have ALL been witches and wizards thanks to books. We humans want so badly to be everything and despair knowing we never will, but books! Thank the universe for such things, they make our possibilities endless if only for a little while.
I am raising readers, it is the one thing I know I am doing right and reading everyday to my kids at length, is working. Now that Miles is able to read on his own he is devouring books, exactly as I hoped. I see myself in him and I’m even jealous a bit remembering that feeling, the beginning of wonder that books bring when you’re a child.
Oh lord, bury me in a monument of books! Lose me in the stacks! Lay my body to rest among that which brings me the most peace in my soul.
Then stick the whole thing in a cryo-chamber and shoot it into space. Allons-y!