It seems that everybody in the freeking world is doing their reading on kindle, or the facsimile thereof created by other, less creative and more piggy-back intended companies. Perhaps this is the result of my lack of knowledge of world statistics, and that my fallacy of composition deals with only volunteers in Uganda, who read a book a week. Be this as it may, I would like to stand up and be recognized as one of the last proponents of a real live, non-animated, cut-giving paperback book.
Yes, I do have to turn the pages MYSELF. When I’m laying down on one side of the bed, with one elbow holding up my head, the other holding the pages open, it is really annoying to switch each page. Sure, When one side of my body gets tired, and I have to switch, I have NO doubts that the lack of light I am receiving to read (because the lamp is on the opposite side, which I am now obstructing with my own body now that I have turned over) will totally ruin my eyesight for later years. I am really sure that it is true; you probably DO read books faster on a kindle, as a result. Yes, how NICE it is to get all of the really old, classic books for free. What an amazing opportunity this Kindle thing really is! How could one live without it?
I like turning the pages. I like feeling the rough texture against my fingers, and I like having to balance the book on its spine, careful not to pull the pages too far apart and leave a permanent bowlegged nature in the first quarter of the book, which you’ll be forced to inadvertently turn to EVERY time you accidentally let the book slip into closing without properly fitting in the bookmark. I like choosing if I respect the book enough to actually keep up with a bookmark for it, or if I decide to give it the equivalent of the scarlet letter of a book; the doggy ear, placed every 10 pages of length that I can manage before it makes me choose sleep over its words. (Because this, of course, is much different than the bowlegged disability, which no self respecting reader can leave; the ear mark is a declaration of respect, a conscious act of superiority over a less than worthy book. The bowlegged is only noticed after the fact, and is never a conscious act; the vast number of ways it can occur can be proof of either interest or boredom in the book, thereby disqualifying it as a kind of act of ranking or approval.)
I like the character of the book that is formed during my involvement with it. When I’m drinking something from my large-mouth nalgene, and it drips, it stains. The pages get swollen. When I throw it in my pack and take it with me, it gets bent, becomes more malleable. Even though I have never figured out how, the cover gets scratched, marred, individualized. These stays, folds and creases are the exact imperfections that make it my own. Like your favorite recipe, it suddenly makes it stronger. It is these miniscule imperfections that makes it perfect for another. For you. And it is those same imperfections that give you a chance to judge the beholder of the book before you. Whether it is snickering at the words in the margins (they CLEARLY did not get what the author was saying), or pure anger at an earmarking (how could they do this to a GOOD book?!), it is absolutely part of the experience.
I even like losing my place, and having to find it back again by reading before pages (“right, this is where that guy did that IDIOT thing”) and ones after (“Crap! I totally just ruined it! I wonder if that means she already left him?). I like finding the spot, the page where I look and instantly I can tell it is where I left off; it’s like I have just reached home after a long days work, and the dog has started his obligatory bark with wagged tail following close behind.
More than anything, I like putting in the bookmark (for this is a book that I am truly enjoying, that I am currently describing), closing the book, and reveling at the forward progress made for the day. Sure, you may have just completely wasted what would have been a beautiful day outside saving the world, but, geez, you covered some ground in Monte Cristo!! You sleep well as a result of it, confident that tomorrow’s adventure will be an even greater step towards completion, and the subsequent beginning of another, even thicker and ever more daunting novel.
Never will I be reading a book and have it tell me “low battery.” Never will I push a button to turn a page, unless it is some kind of Jeffersonian invention, copied from the actresses of the movie “Real Genius,” that has been given to me as a present from one of my creative and superbly proud sons. Never will I put my book into my bookbag, and think, “wait, did I do that gently enough?”. “Should I have put the cover on it first?”. “Did I turn my book off?”.
The book I’m reading has it’s own weight, own font size and type, and its own characteristics. It’s that book which I will finish. If it sucked...then I'll discard it like an odd-shaped child in Ancient Greece. If it was worth anything,I'll pass it on to the next (ever dwindling) person willing to accept it, hopeful that he will notice its character, inadvertently add some of his/her own, and let the book continue on its path towards universal entertainment, enlightenment, horror, or whatever it intends to bring its reader. If you want it next, let me know.
But I won’t be able to send it to you over email.
As per request, and as it pertains to the subject, here is the list of books that I’ve read, in order of my enjoyment:
1) Poisonwood Bible (fiction, set in Congo during revolution)
2) Shantaram(guy escapes from prison…sets up a free medical clinic while a drug runner and on the run from another country)
3) Unbearable Lightness of Being (If you enjoy thinking, too much, about relationships, pick it up)
3) Papillon (facsimile of Shantaram, minus romanticism, plus more ridiculous badass stories)
5) Brave New World (Stepford Wives + The giver…kind of)
6) Les Miserables
6) The Illiad
9) Naked (funny short stories, good bathroom book)
10) Catcher in the Rye
Excited about reading these, on deck for the next month (in no order):
1) Dark Star Safari
3) Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4) Extremely loud and incredibly close