Any regular reader of this column or anyone who knows me even slightly understands that I love reading. You also know that I don’t have nearly enough time to read everything That’s on my nightstand or lining my bookcases. But I try.
There’s just something wonderfully tactile about (carefully) cracking open a new book. Some, with great illustrations or embossing or heavy, linen covers, are really works of art. They reek of promise: the potential to inform or entertain or move the reader, and I love that.
But even musty, old books are appealing, especially if I know the provenance. I still have a battered, yellowed 1945 paperback edition of Stephen Leacock’s Literary Lapses, with a cover price of 25 cents. It was given to me by my mentor, Dorothy Bond, when I was a young caseworker at CNIB in the mid-1970s. That book and the note she slipped inside it take me back decades. How could I part with it? Or how could I release the small, hardcover edition of Dickens? A Tale of Two Cities that I bought at a neighbour’s garage sale many years ago? Alec’s name and the date?September 1938?are written in fountain pen on the front page. His daughter’s name is underneath it, written in pencil.
Today, I’m likely to check mayoclinic.com when I need reliable information on symptoms, causes, and cures for what ails me. But that doesn’t mean I’d ever let go of the 1944 edition of Modern Medical Counselor. The endpapers have a grey marble-like design that almost looks anatomical, with its curvy shapes and veining. There are only 15 colour illustrations in this book of nearly 1,000 pages. I remember my mom using it to look up remedies. This is a keeper.
I’m also keeping my beat-up high school textbook Conversational Ukrainian, by Yar Slavutych, even though I was the sixth kid to buy it and It’s being held together with brittle tape. Why? In the vain hope that I will someday regain some capacity to read, write, or speak my native language with some fluency.
So why am I subjecting you to this inventory of oldies? I am torn. I feel disloyal or disingenuous or confused over how easily I adapted to my Sony Reader. I bought one book (The Voice‘s own S.D. Livingston’s latest Project Renaissance) and loaded up a bunch of free titles before our Mexican holiday. Because I’m not a total convert yet, I also packed three paperbacks and read one of them. The Reader was lightweight, portable, and surprisingly easy to read, even with progressive lenses. I got the case with the attached light as a Christmas gift, but didn’t need to use it for extra light. The case seems to offer some solid protection, though at $55 it seems a bit like price gouging.
In fact, I’m so taken with the new technology that I am considering digital publishing for my first novel. If and when it happens, you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, read on, from where I sit.