I have been jonesing for a paper book this week, as I forge ahead through a batch of advanced reader copies from Netgalley (love them! ) that will expire in a week or two and disappear off of my iPad. A paper book, the smell and weight of it, the edges of the paper and the cover illustration that is larger than a thumbnail.
I have come a little late to the virtual reading party, with the gift of my iPad from my (clearly fabulous) husband. It took me awhile to settle in, but I find two things: it’s way easier to buy a virtual book than a paper one with one-click technology, and I tend to read more books now that I have this tool.
That said, I sit in front of a computer much of the day and try to write every day as well so have an hour or two of additional screen time. Eye fatigue is for real. When this happens I will read paper books or newspapers – we subscribe to the seattle Times and the New York Times, so a lot of dead trees flow through my hands. A reading practice is much like a writing or art practice: the more you practice the more you accomplish. So with reading – the more books I read the more I want to read.
These two illustrations are by the brilliant, prolific and warm hearted Edward Ardizzone, from the Eleanor Farjeon book of short stories, The Little Book Room. One of my favorite books, for many reasons. I have been thinking a lot about ebooks vs. paper books, as a friend’s bookstore, Fremont Books, closed this last week, one of a lengthening list. Like a physical book, a bricks and mortar bookstore serves more functions than the delivery of reading material. I fear that in our rush forward to embrace the glories of this new technology and literary ecosystem we will lose altogether these places that serve as social hubs, gatekeepers of arts and culture and support systems for the writers who create books. As well, the pleasures to be had from interacting with a paper book and the important learning that happens with children as they read physical books are to be savored and to be recognized. Learning happens with real people present for young children and in some sense physical books become people. Here we learn about physical space, graphic sorting, the first glimmers of letters and words having meaning, what a character is and the poetry of language. Here, too we form a circle of attention and meaning with the adult who reads to us, who models the activity as important and who looks at us and interacts with us. Irreplaceable and key to development.
My paper book this week will be A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, another gift from my husband. I’m really looking forward to it.