I always appreciate anyone with my shared love of language (and of literature in general) and as the youth trotted off, my thoughts meandered over to the eternal question:
To kindle or not to kindle; that is the question
Whether tis nobler with a heavy book to suffer
The weathered and ripped pages of outrageous fortune
Or to go digital against a sea of wasted trees
All superfluous melodramatics aside, books have always been a very personal thing for me. Before I could read my parents spent hours on the sofa reading to me. I still remember the trilling, speeding, beating of my heart when the concept of reading first ‘clicked’ for me. It was one of those Dick and Jane books and suddenly I was READ-ING! Dick was run-ning and I knew it because I READ IT MY-SELF! I remember flip-ripping through those pages, run-ning to my mom to show her that I could READ! (I later went through a VERY short-lived phase where I would read EVERY billboard that we drove by, much to my parent’s chagrin)
Growing up I didn’t get to play video games and my brothers and I would get so foot-stomping-pee-our-pants-excited for Saturday trips to the Base library where we’d get to check out as many books as they would let us—I had a fondness for ones having to do with bears and dogs and the boys that befriended them, and oddly enough I can still recall a book about a muffin-baking dragon.
I tell you all this because here’s THE THING:
No one stops you on the metro, or on the bus or on the street to talk to you about how much they like the book that you are reading on your kindle. Namely because the logistics for this to happen are just too difficult; someone would have to get all Michelle-Pfeiffer-UP-CLOSE-AND-PERSONAL on you to see what you were reading. And nobody wants or needs that on the metro. People like to keep their ‘bubble’ inflated while on the metro.
But books, books are a magical thing. They are at once a most solitary, contemplative pursuit and at the same time a most common bonding, cohesive element. They are both a just-me-myself-and-I-rainy-day companion and the excuse for book club wives everywhere to slam a case of Franzia on a Thursday night.
And they are courage-givers and door-openers.
I can boldly and comfortably speak to someone with whom I have nothing in common with—except for the book in their hands. And in the buttoned-up-eyes-diverted-locked-up-in-my-personal-metro-space-and-throw-away-the-key existence in which most of us live every day
(except of course for the ubiquitous “OMG-Beth-this-guy-was-so-rude-to-me-on-the-escalator-today–when-alls-I-was-doing-was-minding-my-own-bizwax-standing-on-the-left-side-Julie-from-Ohio”…who never learned about ‘inside voices’ or little miss “hey-hey-I-don't-like-your-girlfriend-this-song-was-so-cool-5-years-ago-that-I-think-everyone-in-the-metro-car-should-also-listen-to-it-through-my-headphones-girl-power!”)
the common ground of a physical book is just the fresh air we need in our lives (either that or better a/c in the metro).