True Confessions of a Bibliophile
Hello loyal readers and people I’ve passive-aggressively forced to check out this site,
You know what you’re doing right now? You’re reading this post. (Try and not be so astounded by my wisdom.) You know what else you’re doing? You’re feeding into the burgeoning technological revolution that is creeping its way into every facet of our lives. Yeah, I blame you… and Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and while we’re at it, I blame Thomas Edison* for opening the world’s eyes to that whole “electricity” thing. If it weren’t for him, I’d be sitting in my room reading a novel by candlelight right now instead of typing on my laptop under the artificial light of a ceiling fan, enjoying the cool breeze of my air conditioner, answering texts on my cell phone, mixing smoothies in the blender and well you get the point.
Technology abounds and we’re left with no other choice but to run after it and hope we can keep up. Sometimes we stand on the street corner, watching it run away with all our valuables rather than chase after it and tackle it to the ground because we don’t know which option would be the greater risk. This is the story of one such case (in less hypothetical terms and with a tad more cynicism.)
A few days ago at the newspaper office, I overheard a conversation between two reporters. One began the conversation with the statement “Borders sucks” and proceeded to tell a riveting tale of how expensive the books are and how much trouble she had finding a specific book at one of the stores. I decided to continue listening for two reasons: I love books and I had a similar experience at a different Borders the day before. Turns out, I had trouble finding the book because it wasn’t published in paperback yet, so that one was my bad. But I’ve complained for years about how expensive it is to buy new books. $15 for a paperback? $30 for hardcover? Are they serious?! Answer: they’re as serious as the Joker or the swine flu pandemic. That’s pretty serious.
If you tell me that there’s a place called a “library” where you can rent books for free, I will tell you what I’ve told thousands of people before you who have used that line on me: It’s not the same. I want to own books, write notes in the margins, pull the book off my shelf two years from now and flip through the pages. And none of this “overdue” crap. I don’t want somebody telling me when I have to finish a book by. That’s what college is for, not pleasure reading. And lastly, I want to make my own library, book by book. It’s a long process because, ahem, books are SO overpriced, but it’s a fun process, nonetheless.
Naturally, the two reporters’ conversation turned into a discussion of Kindles or Nooks or whatever they’re called nowadays. I like to call them the downfall of civilization, the biggest mistake of the twenty-first century. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. There are probably some bigger mistakes made in the past eleven years. But to someone who is majoring in books (I suppose Literatures in English is the correct term, but telling people I study “books” is more quaint), it pains me to see them disappearing along with newspapers and boy bands and quality TV sitcoms. Everything I love is being slowly forced out of society right before my eyes, and I can’t do anything but sit back and blog about it. What a hypocrite I am. (At least I’m listening to BBMak right now. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, they’re an underappreciated British boy band from the late 90s. Google them. Gah, more technology.)
You might be sitting there thinking, “Okay T-Bo. You’re crazy. What do you have against E-Readers?” I’m so glad you asked. Here is an abridged list of why I would rather read a book than a Kindle. There’s nothing like holding a book in your hands. You can feel the pages, write notes in the margins, smell the pages (it’s not weird) and admire the cover art. With a Kindle, you can stare at a screen for hours and scroll down, people have no idea what you’re reading because they can’t creep on the cover (come on, you’ve had this happen to you at one point – great conversation starter), Kindles don’t look old or smell like the 1800s and there’s nothing magical about them. It’s just another piece of technology. Books are special. They’ve been around forever. Trying to phase them out and phase in E-Readers is like trying to replace all natural bodies of water with Vitamin Water. It doesn’t make sense.
Books have this romantic quality to them that a piece of plastic can never have. If you don’t believe me, I recommend the book The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. But you have to buy or borrow the book; it would be a little blasphemous to read it off a screen.
That being said, one of my favorite things to do is stand in a bookstore and just stare at the rows of books in awe, while secretly hoping that one day I can have a collection this large. (It’s a ridiculous dream, I know.) While I love Borders and Barnes and Noble, there’s really nothing as exciting as an independent or secondhand bookstore. For one, the books usually aren’t as expensive, and you can find some treasures that you won’t find in the big corporate stores. One book I found in a Mystic bookshop is called Yankee Talk: A Dictionary of New England Expressions by Robert Hendrickson. Why I bought it, I haven’t a clue. It had phrases like “Fiddlesticks!” and “Meaner than goose grease” on the cover, so that played a big role in my decision, but will it ever come in handy?
Actually, it might. Irrelevant side note: I have a friend who is away for seven weeks intensely studying Spanish at a college in Vermont and I have decided to make it my goal to completely change the East Coast’s slang while she’s away to confuse her upon her return. Don’t look at me like I’m nuts. It’s possible. The English language is always evolving, which can be seen if one studies books from different time periods. Books, not Kindles. People don’t write Kindles.
I never thought in my lifetime something would come along and replace books. It seems too science-fiction-y and far-fetched. I also never thought I would be this strongly opposed to the idea, but clearly, I am. If I have to, I’m willing to go Guy Montag on anyone who tries to take away my books. (Though hopefully, I’ll have better results and won’t have to flee my home and end up hanging out with other book fugitives by some railroad tracks. At least they’d be well-versed.) But I should wrap this up before this short story turns into a novel. So remember, books are wonderful. Read them, love them, help prevent their extinction.
Contemplating becoming Amish,
*A friend has pointed out that Ben Franklin is more deserving of a shout-out than Edison for the electricity thing. My apologies, Benny. We could never forget your contributions to the scientific community.