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Wall of Books

How I Find Hope

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: Mr. T in DC

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.

— Paul Sweeney

I love to read!  I seldom go anywhere without a book.  If I’m out shopping, I’ll usually have a book in my purse and when I get worn out from too much, I’ll take a break.  I’ll grab a soda and sit and read for a while.  After a few minutes or a few pages, my energy returns and I’m back up and moving.  I’ve even been known to stand patiently in line at Costco or Sam’s or in some equally long line with my book.  As long as I have something to read, I’m usually pretty happy.

Since I love to read, I spend a certain amount of time during each trip to Costco at the “book table.”  I also hang out at the Friends of the Library which lets me buy current hardbacks for the price of a paperback – the smaller paperbacks that ran less than $6.  Now paperbacks cost more because publishers have converted to the larger format paperbacks – probably because as we age we need slightly larger print which leads to larger paperbacks.

I Love a Bookstore

My mother always thought that buying books was a waste of money.  After all, there was the library – why would you need to own a book? (Mom preferred jewelry.)  When I was a kid, the reason I needed to buy books was that the library scorned Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew, and I loved them.  No doubt there was no “socially redeeming value” to Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew, but there was one thing that was very important – Cherry and Nancy were strong women.  They did brave things and went on great adventures.  I didn’t know anyone like that.

I don’t know if Nancy and Cherry were sold at bookstores because we bought these at K-Mart or Woolco (the Woolworth’s K-Mart equivalent).  The first time I remember going to a bookstore was in downtown Chicago; Mom and I went to Kroch’s and Brentano’s.  She was a teacher and once a year, she would take me and we would look for books with pictures that she could use to make elaborate decorations for her classroom.  She couldn’t draw but she figured out how to project the chosen image on the wall, trace it and then color it in with oils.  I never got anything there, but I loved the place.

Now, just the act of going to the bookstore, exploring the shelves and finding four or five books that introduce me to new ideas, new potential solutions, or tell great stories lifts my spirits.  I’ll wander through the store, grab several books off the shelves and go into the café to decide which ones I want.  Once I get them home, I may not get around to reading them for quite a while but that’s OK because I’m one of those people who buy the book and get the benefit without even opening the cover.  Books bring me hope.

Going Electronic

Recently, being employed once again, I bought myself a Nook.  Reading the Nook is a different experience than reading a “real” book.  There are advantages and disadvantages to the Nook.

One advantage is that I can get to my “library” from anywhere that connects to the internet.  That means that I don’t have to have the Nook with me to refer to one of my books.  I can log in to my Barnes and Noble library and look something up while I’m working on a post on my lunch break.  That can be very convenient.  I can also go book shopping from anywhere that provides wireless access – like Starbucks.

Another advantage is that I can take a ton of books with me wherever I go.  I don’t need to decide ahead of time what book I’ll want to read later, I have my books with me and I can buy something else if nothing I have appeals (without finding an open store).

One of the disadvantages is that I like to “cheat” when I’m reading a book.  I flip through the last several pages to see how it ends.  There really isn’t a good way to do that on the Nook – which is probably good for me, but it is a disadvantage.

Reading outdoors is also problematic.  Being out in the sun makes it pretty much impossible to read.  I haven’t looked around for a fix for that and I haven’t been out in the sun much so it’s not a big deal now, but when I go on vacation, I may have to plan to have real paper books for when I’m outdoors.

Overall, I’m glad I got the Nook.  At some point I may trade it in on a tablet PC that has the ability to display books that are in the Nook format and can be used to check email, watch the stock market and maybe, even watch movies.  I’m amazed at how many of my friends have gotten an e-reader of some type.  People who struggle with PCs and email, love their Kindle or Nook or whatever reader they have.  It makes me think that my beloved bookstores will probably go the way of the dinosaur as more of us adapt to all of these neat toys.  I hope it won’t happen soon, but I have done my part to help bring about their extinction.

Long term, the next generation will be reading, learning, and shopping in ways we can’t even imagine today.  We need to be ready to jump in or be left behind.  They won’t wait for us.

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