I know they are pretty and glossy under that glass, and just the slightest touch turns the page….such effortless love. But I just can’t fall in love with E books. The frumpiness of a used book calls me from my bookcase to remember good times. There is, The Best Loved Poems of the American People, with notes and stars in the margin. My Dad leant it to me many times, and after he was gone I found a note for me on the inside cover, ”Final owner by decree of the Higher Power, JWO.” He thought it was funny. There was a smile across my heart.
I remember seeing at least a hundred books on theology resting in our homemade bookcase, but my interest at six was Disney. Those spines of yellow, green, red and blue were bright, and I wondered how they got all those pages to stick into that backbone, the spine. There was a small amount of Disney doctrine on one page that said, “God only helps those that help themselves.” At six, I was in distress. what if someone couldn’t help themselves? Does God abandon them? It was horrible because at six, face it, I couldn’t help myself. Maybe that would be me? My Dad said not to worry about it. I figured he was smarter than Disney on these matters. Only two of those beloved books remained after a move, but I found the complete set at an antique shop. For twenty years I had wanted, and longed for all four olive-green beauties. There they sat bound by one blue yarn on a bench in an antique shop, elation! The slight mildew didn’t bother me at all. I could hug them to my soul unlike beautiful E. All mine for a few dollars. Just imagine, they will never need to be charged!
All of this post got started in my ever twirling blonde mind, when I found a book my Dad had obviously read from cover to cover. What was the title of this fascinating 589 plus page book, The Nature and Properties of Soils, Barnes. He had notes and scribbles that were red-inked on what he felt was important. J.W.O. was written on the inside cover, 1989. This is something spectacular that E is incapable of producing: red ink written in the margin, and a name signed for ownership. Just one more reason, that E can’t steal my heart!
I downloaded a free sample once, but never a book. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was. After a few sentences, I was gone. It was written for profit not for quality. True love is never easy. However, if it were Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte, I might have to relent my icicle heart past the glass, unleash my power of concentration into the sleekness, and feed my soul the lines of literary goodness. But I would still cherish even more those same books, on a nightstand waiting by lamplight. Just long-lost friends waiting for a fine talk on living. Perhaps I will travel to Europe in, All our Worldly Goods, by Irene Nemirovsky, slip into the night with the poem, Said the Rose, by George B. Miles, or battle the darkness of Hitler in, Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas.
I see frayed edges, multi-colored bindings, and dust on my shelves. True rat packers can’t belong to the E world. There is nothing to clean; nothing to measure the times, seasons of life. I see art books, history, psychology, Pischna, hymnals, Dr. Seuss, baby names, “The Fascinating Girl” (Helen Andelin) read with the idealism of my seventeen year old girl-self who thought that a strong will, shooting for the stars, and giving all of your heart meant that life would hug you back in return. Life doesn”t hug easily. Stars have a way of shooting out all the giving as the dreams fall airless on the floor. That airless fall is one of the most exquisite things that Life can do for a person, essential. Broken dreams can become sturdy roadblocks that keep paths out of the bog. What does your timeline look like E?
I like the sound of turning pages such as in the book, Churchmouse Stories, by Margot Austin. What about bookmarks? The genuine items are a pink heart of construction paper dividing ethereal pages, the photo of a smiling two toothed child, a love poem on putty paper, a tear-stained purple polyester rectangle with scriptures printed in gold ink, and poetry sublime squiggled on torn paper stuck on page 81, because you just can’t forget that place, that place in time. I don’t care how gorgeous you are “E”. My heart belongs to paper world, and the fragrance of old and new books.
Don’t get discouraged. It’s al right! There will always be someone to love you. You will live forever in wireless world. You will survive. There is a whole generation that have never held a mildewed book, and pressed it into their elated heart. They will always turn to you first, but if they ever find out the wonder of the “real book world” you are in trouble my friend. Maybe one day I will buy you E. Maybe, I will give you a hug, but for now my arms are full of mildew.