Monday, November 8, 2010

Kindle me this, Kindle me that

I believe I may be a purist. There seems to be something amiss with this whole digital book thing. I get that it saves trees, that it's thinner than any book worth reading, that you have a virtual library at your fingertips 24 hours a day and that it has the potential to be less expensive than purchasing paper copies. But... there is something so completely wonderful about holding a book in my hands.

My love of books started at an early age. I remember spending hours pouring over pictures and taking myself into their world. Whether a family was on a picnic with sandwiches cut into perfect triangles, a monster came over to swing and I was the one sitting in his lap or a cat was being shooed away from a pie on a windowsill, I would go on wonderful adventures inside my books. As I grew, the books changed and I put myself into stories where there were no pictures. I could walk along the road with the children who were abandoned by their crazy mother, I could feel the heat on their shoulders as I anxiously turned page after page. I could see that if I kept on reading at that feverish pace, I could finish the book before midnight. I can remember my first year of marriage where we lived only a few blocks from the local library. I would check out book after book and sometimes stay up all night, reading straight through until morning. When I heard my husband get up for work, I would pretend to  have fallen asleep reading because I knew he didn't understand how a book could be so good that you would give up sleep for it. Just one more chapter, just one more chapter until I could see dawn coming through the front window in all it's pink hues and wonder where the time went.

I developed a love of Jane Austen novels and the language she used. If I were to live in an era other than this, that is where I would choose to time travel. And I can sit in my living room and look at the bookcases that flank our big, glowing television screen and see the spines of my beloved novels and remember certain scenes that took my breath away or made may laugh. They are like old friends that I sat up and conversed with late into the night. They didn't mind my tears, they didn't glance at me sideways when I read the same paragraph over and over because I had lost myself in my imagination. They even let me use my lame English accent when it's needed without judgment or snickering. I read my books as if I'm a narrator, with all the inflection and passion you would expect to hear from a movie trailer. And with each turning page the excitement builds.

I have passed down my love of books to my children. Even now at 10 & 12 years of age, I still read books to them with all the voices and I can feel their fear and listen to them laugh. They hear their favorite stories in new ways and have become fearless in putting their own ideas into action when they read a new book to me. They love when I pull out my old storybooks from when I was little and share them. I even have a few of my mothers storybooks from when she was a child. I have saved my kids books from when they were toddlers. One day when they have kids of their own, I'll pull them out and read their favorite stories to my grandchildren. We have books for each season as well, that get packed away with the decorations and then brought back out again the next year. Their favorite part of decorating is finding the books at the bottom of the bins. All decorating stops when the books surface and we'll sit and read and look through the pictures. I've already bought two new Christmas books and it's not yet Thanksgiving.

I just don't see how a handheld screen could bring these joys. I look at a screen all day at work. I want to look at my books and remember the times I had with them. I have no interest in passing down a kindle. I have the distinct privilege to pass down a legacy of being a great reader who enjoys bright colors and vivid imaginations with the sound of the pages turning almost like rustling leaves. It is a beautiful thing.