Worth Their Weight

It is entrapment, pure and simple. My local bookstore has beautiful, hard-cover, classic books for sale for under $5 (using my 30% off coupon).

Titles like Swiss Family Robinson and Little Women coquettishly peek from the shelf, enticing me to come closer. A quick calculation tells me that my eldest grandson won’t appreciate the Wyss father and son collaboration just yet and that my oldest granddaughter is at least eight years away from enjoying Louisa May Alcott.

Mustering immense self-control by picturing my husband’s response if I was to walk in with these purchases, I regretfully leave the volumes behind. Our latest marital agreement is to give away or throw out two books for each one we bring in to the house which has substantially crimped my impulse buying.

We travel a great deal and increasingly passengers in adjacent seats are reading on NOOKs, IPads, and Kindles. Perhaps one of those devices even has a place in my future. But as millions of parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents look for a gift to delight a child this December, I can’t help but hope that they opt to buy real books. There may be a cool factor in possessing an electronic reader, but a book with real pages to turn and a new book smell isn’t just an acquisition. One enters into a relationship with a book; it possesses you as much as you possess it.  A book that is read over and over looks and feels different than a new book. Like a well-worn pair of shoes, it exudes comfort and adjusts to the owner. Favorite pages are more worn than others; the book opens of its own accord to beloved sections.

There was a time when prognosticators envisioned the end of home-made bread. Not only did most people live within reach of a bakery, but sliced and wrapped loaves were easily accessible in supermarkets. Yet, over the past years there has been a resurgence of home baking. One type of bread is a food item, the other is an experience. Does anyone doubt which is more valuable?

I don’t think I am alone in pitying a child whose room isn’t full of books even if he can instantaneously access thousands of volumes electronically. Technology can be wonderful, but books feed the soul. The bargains in my bookstore may not have fit my immediate needs, but the hour I spent browsing reminded me of so many physical, tangible treasures I can’t wait to share.

3 thoughts on “Worth Their Weight”

  1. It has been told that Mark Twain received a young guest a his home during the twilight years of his career. When touring the home and upon entering Mark Twain’s study, the young visitor beheld books on shelves, books in stacks, and books crammed in every nook and cranny. We’re told that his visitor exclaimed “Wow Mr. Twain! So many books!” Mark Twain responded: “Yes lad, but I have found that it’s not so easy to borrow a bookcase.”

  2. I’m split. Mainly because electronic books don’t take up the space (I think I have the same bookshelf overload you do). But there is one more advantage. As I spend more time in front of a computer, my eyes tire. A Kindle has an electronic reader, so all those titles (since they are out of copyright many are free) can be read to me while I’m resting, walking, exercising, or driving, with my eyes not having to focus on something close for yet several more hours per day.
    And yes, there is something about a book. Even the technical data I require in my daily work I have a good printer to make hardcopy. They get indexed, highlighted, and no reader lets my eyes scan across dozens of pages over several different printouts at the same time when I’m looking for something.

  3. I heartily concur! I often say that on our wedding day, my husband married me and my books.
    Some of my earliest memories are of my Mama reading to me, and that love of words on a literal page has deepened over the years. I am a ‘gray geek’, enjoying technology, but cannot see an ‘electronic reader’ in my future. Like you, I enjoy turning real pages.
    I always look forward to your ‘musings’, Thanks!

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