Friday, April 15, 2011
A Letter Praising Books
I'm writing to you in letter format again, since I'm hoping to keep up the awareness and art form of letter writing, even if it's composed over e-mail or other technological form.
This week, I got a delivery of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies from a co-worker, with the most beautifully written thank you note on a stationary with her name attached to it. I thought I couldn't remember when I last received such a fine note, and this one from a child. Even on Christmas cards, I barely get more than "Merry Christmas." Truth be told, I don't recall receiving any letters in the mail since my college years.
Here's the reason for today's letter...
Some women covet shoes. Others bags. Here's what draws me like a moth to a flame: books. Filled with words that move me and stay with me, actually become part of me, ideas that challenge me, stories that make me dream, time that knows no boundaries.
Books: actual turn the page, put a bookmark in it, flip back to a cherished passage you were lingering over - those books. I hope they remain stalwarts.
I considered this recent New York Times article that Amazon will begin selling $114 Kindles which will include ads as screen savers and at the bottom of the home screen, and selling special offers. Why does consumerism need to be infused in every element of our lives? Shannon Hoon sang in Blind Melon's No Rain, "All I can do is read a book to stay awake, and it rips my life away but it's a great escape." There's no escaping commercials.
I don't despise eReaders the way many book lovers do. A friend thinks they will co-exist peacefully among books. And promoting literacy in our age of arts and education cuts is a good thing.
But I find so much of what I read through thrift shops and library book sales. I discovered my favorite new author, Keith Donohue, at thrift. His latest, Centuries of June, is coming out May 31st, and I'm actually giddy. Giddy over a book. My last read, Witch Child, which still haunts me and my mother is now enjoying, was 25 cents from a library book sale. I would have never been exposed to either if the physical books weren't bought and passed on. I love passing on a cherished book once I've read it (I keep a few for my own).
The New York Times wrote a beautiful love letter of an article to typewriters, and I thought of the parallel to books. Here are some of my favorite passages from it:
"Manual typewriters aren't going gently into the good night of the digital era.
For one, old typewriters are built like battleships. They survive countless indignities and welcome repairs, unlike laptops and smartphones, which become obsolete almost the moment they hit the market. "It's kind of like saying, 'In your face, Microsoft!'
Young typerwriter afficiandos...chafe against digital doctrines that identify human "progress" as a ceaseless march toward greater efficiency, the search for a frictionless machine.
Louis Smith, 28, a drummer from Williamsburg, stated "It's about permanence, not being able to hit delete. You have to have some conviction in your thoughts."
I loved this, and I consider the concept of permanence in our world of texts and e-mails gone so quickly, stories never passed on, and a book outlasting decades while gadgets get upgraded.
I'll write again soon, as I have a fine book calling my name. As you can see, I have far too much to read, but in my book (pun intended), that's the best kind of excess in life you can have. Happy reading.