HUB IN THE HOOD: Confessions of A Book Snob
Confessions Of A Book Snob
I will totally admit it; I am a paper snob. I normally accept change with a sense of adventure, but when it comes to my precious library I am stubborn. My life has been embroidered with the golden threads which are books. The earliest childhood memories of the smell of the downtown library, the sound of velvety soft paper pages whispering as you turn them, the comfort of feeling a book as it rides nestled in your left hand...There are so many memories which dance around my life-long love affair with literature.
How much do I love my books? I love my books like a fat kid loves cake. I love my books like Imelda Marcos loves shoes. I love my books like Jerry Springer loves a chair fight. I appreciate my tomes like a gay man appreciates Jimmy Choos. I digress...Books are my friends. Books are my solace. Books are my confort. For years books have been my escape - that one happy place where I can go and shut out the surrounding world. At times, books have been my salvation. If I am ever accused of hoarding - guess what? It will be books! Piles and piles of books.
Our personal library gives a warm oak home to almost 1000 titles, and still I cannot help running a hand over the weathered spines of so many books as they lie dormant in flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales. We, as a family, do occasionally visit the chain bookstores, glorious in their uniform. (However, this is not unlike going to Macy's to buy socks when you would normally go to WalMart for such a staple.) Books, in their ubiquitous physical form, represent me on many levels. Books are the tangible evidence that I thirst for knowledge and that I am thus knowledgable.
As a book lover, I have found it difficult to embrace the austere digital format known as the e-book. In the early stages of my pessimism, I was suspicious of these ethereal "books" and their Star Trek devices. I felt somehow that such an invention was another commercialized reach into the technological mine field. It sounded expensive. It sounded boring. It sounded like cheating. I ignored the pronounced benefits of gadgets such as the Kindle and the Nook and the i-Pad. Tech geeks and book afficianados alike crowded the digital chatrooms with debates over which products were better and why. They fussed over prices, capabilities, and worse. Books and publishing hadn't been this chaotic and controversial since Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (insert irony here). This is when it occurred to me that these robotic books were not going anywhere. In fact, they are just beginning! Suddenly, I lost my place on the page. I lost the plot. It was time to go old-school and do my investigative book report.
I interviewed friends - who were also adamant book-worms - abou their new e-readers. One woman told me, "It's like driving a stick shift, then driving an automatic. You feel more in control with the 5-speed, but then you're blown away by how easy the automatic is!" Another friend told me that she was concerned at first, so comforted herself by downloading her favorite tome onto her new device - which incidentally made her feel better about her e-reader. And still another woman I know - who eats books (what we say about a person who reads voraciously)- said her new piece of tech gear was worth every penny she paid when she realized it was much easier to take fifteen novels on a plane via one device. Point made. A mom told me, "I couldn't get Caitlyn to pick up a book to save her life until she got her Kindle for Christmas. Now she reads ALL the time!" My fears eased. I didn't have to give up my physical comfort in books. I could have the best of both worlds.
I sat at home, re-reading my hand-me-down Harry Potters and wondered aloud if you could still gasp out loud and cry "No!!" when your eyes read the words detailing Dumbledore's death when you were, in fact, staring at a miniature computer screen. Is it the feel of paper between thumb and finger that makes a date with a reader all the more arduous? A story is a story no matter where you read it, right? Why was I having separation anxiety? It's not like my books would vanish in the surprise fires set by Capricorn's henchmen. Then, it happened. My husband came home with the gift of a Nook. I was cautious at first, allowing myself to visit Google's library. I checked to see if my favorite titles were there, almost hoping to find a flaw in the system. Nope, they were all available. With great trepidation, I sailed the virtual seas whilst maintaining my daily habit of reading old-school. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot was my first purchase. I read it everywhere I went: waiting for the school bus, waiting in line at the grocery, waiting in the orthodontist's office while my daughter had her braces adjusted....and it was Okay. It was fine. It was reading, which was the whole point. My love for the hard copy never dimished, and yet my appreciation for the Nook became habitual.
A triskele has formed, and we each have our place. I can still read my books and I no longer feel adulterous. Afterall, the nook fits in my purse much better than my hardcopy of War And Peace. Now, if I could just get used to the idea of being e-published...