Monday, September 13, 2010

The printed word re-kindled.




As I sit here behind a computer screen, assuming the very same position that most of us take each and every day of our lives, I realize the irony in the subject matter that I am about to elaborate on. We live in a digital age that continually redefines how information is delivered to us; news that used to travel fast… now travels at the speed of light. We surround ourselves with the “necessary” gadgets of the 21st century that illuminate our faces with their back-lit screens and Qwerty keyboards. The one pure act that used to provide solace for those that still want to cling to the old-fashioned way of reading is slowly fading away into the analog days of yesteryear.

Kindles with their cute commercials and catchy tunes promising to “fly us away”. Ipads and their billboards that show folks ambiguously curled up in their Eames chair while reading Ipads in their apartment lofts. These devices promise variety, utility and if you should be so inclined, you can download a book to read as well.

Reading a book or a newspaper used to serve as a welcomed distraction from life, now the very same act has become the distraction from all the other things you could be doing other than reading. Hearing someone say, that on a cold and rainy day, all I want to do is “is stay in bed with a cup of hot chocolate and a good e-reader” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

There’s something inherently romantic about carrying around a book, with its creased cover, ear- marked pages and underlined sentences. You disappear, if not just for a brief moment in the space between its introduction page and “about the author” section, only to be interrupted by someone recognizing or asking about the very book you forgot you were even holding. Your bookmark reminds you of where you have been and how much further you still have to go.

You either labor through it begrudgingly, slowly turning one page to the next or you find one that resonates with you so deeply that you churn through each page so fast that you can feel the ink on your fingertips. A piece of you is left in every book you read, it conjures up memories in the same way that smelling something familiar does. You remember where you were in your life when you last read it. You write notes and dedications to the person you want to give the book to next. Whether you liked the book or not, once you’re done, you put it on your bookshelf which acts like a photo album of all the different journeys you’ve taken. When your friends come over, your bookshelf becomes a topic of conversation and some may even ask, if they too, could go where you’ve already been.

8 comments:

  1. Very True ... with every generations inch of progress we kiss a familiar tradition and its ways goodbye. Some forever and some to keep on the back porch ... just in case we need the comfort during another transition. Optimistically I wish to believe every aspect of life and transition can be acknowledged celebrated appreciated and cherished. Thats why there are folks like us saying ..... I remember when.... I walk 20 miles to school and bread was a nickel and you used to carve the books into your cave walls yourself!;-)

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  2. So very true Reed, so very true...there will always be those of us who are willing to accept the ways of the future without giving up the comforts of the past.

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  3. well, i guess i will be returning your ipad i got you for your bday :) hehe!

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  4. It's the thought that counts Autumn! Day (1) and counting! :)

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  5. I know, that's why i'm returning it and getting you the "Shape up's" you've been asking for! U will use those still, yes??? And how about Day (5110) and counting! Ha!

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  6. Shape-ups! Just in time for my next marathon! (5111) and counting!

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  7. i loved so much about this post! i, too, love books - anticipating their release (most recently, jonathan franzen's "freedom"), settling in to start (the first sentence always the most exciting), feeling the heft in your hands (can't replace that with a kindle...and even the ipad's page turning just isn't the same) - but most of all, i loved these lines:
    "Whether you liked the book or not, once you’re done, you put it on your bookshelf which acts like a photo album of all the different journeys you’ve taken. When your friends come over, your bookshelf becomes a topic of conversation and some may even ask, if they too, could go where you’ve already been."
    it's so true! i love looking at our bookshelves and the bookshelves of others - far more socially acceptable than peeking in a medicine cabinet and equally telling about the owner!

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  8. Thank you Joyce! The bookshelf at your home is one of the first places I always gravitate to, that and wherever the food happens to be! Having a good blend of today's technological advancements with the creature comforts of the past seems to be a mix that we very much have in common!

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