No – I’m not back from the past yet!
I’m still firmly ensconced in 1902, reading…whatever book has taken my fancy.
(Unless I’ve, you know, totally screwed up the space-time continuum or something, or I’ve inadvertently stranded myself in the past…in which case, this post is going to just sit here for all eternity. How ironic, given the subject!)
I scheduled this post to go online automatically before I left for 1902, so I hope it works…
As I say in the little sidebar on my blog: I like books. I like the way books feel, the way they smell. The way their pages turn yellow over time. I like old books, new books. Borrowed books. Battered books, crisp books.
I like books.
I inherited my love of reading from my mother, who bought me books before I was even born. There are still some old picture books at my parents’ place which bear the unmistakable marks of my teeth on the corners. Some pages have been lovingly repaired by my mother with sticky tape, after I got a little carried away and tore them (it was always an accident – even before I could read, I understood that to damage a book was some kind of sacrilegious act). Other books have big, vaguely circular marks on the pages that can only be one thing – toddler slobber.
Too much information? Err…sorry.
At first, I drooled on books. Then, I, when I had teeth, I chewed them. Then, finally, before I’d even set foot in a classroom – I taught myself to read them.
The books of my childhood – these chewed-up, drooled-on, clumsy-baby-handled books – tell more than just the story the original authors intended. They tell a story of their own, too, with their missing corners and their accidentally-creased pages.
Maybe I’ll ask my parents to send me some of my old books one day soon? I’m feeling nostalgic.
I don’t chew books any more.
(Mostly. The toothmarks on the cover of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall are from sheer frustration at her bizarre use of personal pronouns…)
But this isn’t actually a post about me. It’s meant to be a post about my Mum.
My Mum loves books. She reads crime novels, mostly. When I was a child, the family bookshelf took up one wall. Now, in my absence, there are entire rooms of my family home that are filled with shelves and shelves of books.
My Mum is turning sixty in around a month, and I have NO idea what to get her. I know I need to buy her something special this year – and I mean REALLY special – so I called and asked my Dad for advice.
My Dad’s voice crackled down the long-distance line:
“I know,” he told me “exactly what your mother wants for her birthday”.
“Fantastic!” I replied. All my problems were solved! “What is it?”
“A Kindle” he said.
I was silent, flabbergasted – amazed. My Mum is turning sixty! Sixty! She lives in the country! And she wants a Kindle! I’ve never even seen a Kindle in the flesh before – and I commute to work in peak hour in Sydney every day.
“Michelle?” came my Dad’s voice down the phone “Are you still there?”
“Yeah – sorry! I’m just kind of…shocked, I guess!” I responded, trying to gather my thoughts.
“Good,” said my Dad. “I need your help.”
“Why? What’s up?” I asked.
There was a pause. The line crackled. Then, my Dad’s voice:
“What’s a Kindle?”
Although I love books, buying an e-book reader is something that’s honestly never occurred to me. My life’s ambition is to surround myself with books – physical books – as many as I can. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m a little like Scrooge McDuck: if I could, I’d build a special little room in my house, so I could swim in books…and maybe, I’d soak up a little knowledge in the process?
The idea of reading books on a screen is something I can’t quite get used to. How do you mark your page if you can’t fold over the corner? How do you crease the spine? How do you know how much further you’ve got until the end of the book? How do you pile the books you want to read next to your bed and slowly, work your way through the pile, creating a new pile of books you’ve actually read? How?
I’ve seen videos of the iPad, and it looks very, veeeery pretty. I can’t resist a new, shiny piece of technology! I’m all for technology – I write this blog on my lovely Apple MacBook, and, when I’m not frantically reading on the train to work, I’m catching up on other blogs, Twitter and more from my iPhone. But, as much as I love technology, I love books more. I can’t understand why anyone would want to download books and read them on a little screen…
My Mum, however, can.
So. Here’s where I’m at.
I’m reading the old classics. In their traditional paper format. AND I DRINK TEA.
Am I the only person out there who totally isn’t interested in e-books? Is there something wrong with me?
Because I’m beginning to worry that I’m slowly, but surely going the way of the dinosaur…