Monday, June 20, 2011
I Done Got Me One
I can’t remember a time when books weren't important to me. As I’ve mentioned here before, I can remember my mother reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales to me when I was three or four; the first book I bought on my own; the monthly Scholastic Book Club at school; and the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift.
I remember my father forbidding me to Sunday Night at the Movies on TV when the movie was On The Beach, based on the novel by Nevil Shute and about the last days on earth after a nuclear war. I couldn’t watch it, so I bought the book instead.
My 8th grade reading teacher introduced us to Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, a science fiction novel called Day of the Triffids and another novel about nuclear war, Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon. She got into trouble for assigning us to read William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, which was a bit heavy for 13-year-olds. She had to rescind the assignment. I read it anyway.
My mother wanted to read Peyton Place by Grace Metalious when it was published in paperback, but was too embarrassed to buy it herself. So she sent me on my bike to the drugstore to get it. She read it, and I did, too.
Other book memories crowd in: reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged when I should have been studying for a history exam; reading Don Quixote for the first time in high school and almost 30 years later during a beach vacation; reading Twain and Dickens and discovering C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton; and discovering Latin American literature, with names like Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda. And the poetry books!
I love books: I love to hold them and touch them. I love the smell of bookstores and used bookstores. I love beautiful books, like The Four Holy Gospels illustrated by Makoto Fujimura.
So what on earth am I doing with my new Father’s Day present – a Kindle?
The opportunity to buy one has been there for quite a while, but in this case I wasn’t an early adopter, nor was I eager to be one. I don’t like reading a manuscript or a book on the computer. But I decided to see what there was to this ebook reader thing, and if would really work.
It arrived Thursday. The instructions were simple and clear. Within 10 minutes of opening the package, I had purchased and downloaded a book – Gravestone by Travis Thatcher.
Someone put some thought into the Kindle’s design. The screen isn’t back-lit, which makes it easy to read. Turning pages is simple – hitting that side tab. It charges quickly. It’s surprisingly small – 4 ¾” by 7 ½” by ¼”.It comes preloaded with two dictionaries, and it was already registered to me. And my wife, who has suffered through almost 38 years of books dominating bedrooms and basement, is thrilled with the fact that the Kindle will hold 3500 books.
So now I’ll learn how important the physical aspect of books really is to me. So far, it’s a hit.
The only drawback is that it doesn’t smell like a bookstore.
Top photograph: Old Books by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission. Kindle photo by yours truly via my smart phone.