Do you like to read actual books whose pages you can turn or have you fallen under the enchantment of an ebook that you can download to your tablet? While it is convenient to look up information on our phones, I confess that I am a book addict since birth, an affliction that I come by honestly. It is hardwired in my DNA.
I grew up in a home that never had quite enough shelves. My parents added them here and there as they were able. Floor to ceiling bookcases in the living room at one end, three foot high bookcases at the other end. Bookcases in the family room and several of the bedrooms. All of them covered in books: art books, Bibles and theology, ethics, history, great novels and books of poetry, books on housing book collections, collections of doggerel, world religions and cultures, travel, architecture, teaching reading, cathedrals, courthouses, farming, livestock, antiques, manners, shipbuilding, sewing, law, barn building, music and musicians, inventions, period houses and furniture, Judaism, American history, American Indians, woodworking and carpentry, wars, kings and despots, dictators and elected leaders, politics, biographies, pottery, frontier life, candle making, cooking, wood turning, ivories, mosaics, gardening, wild flowers, trees, mysteries, detective stories, assassinations, communism, science, astronomy, jewelry and historic jewelry making, Do-it-yourself guides to nearly anything. It was an eclectic collection of tens of thousands of books, and once-upon-a-time I thought it was ordinary. Alas, I was woefully mistaken.
I felt very foolish the other day. I made a Facebook post asking about a particular book – to see if any of my friends might have a copy that I might purchase or borrow, as the ones that are for sale online are too costly–and the library doesn’t have it. One friend offered to buy it for me which was gracious, but not something I thought I could accept (a dear friend who has shown kindness over and over again). Another good friend suggested I get an e-book for a very slight amount. That is when I felt foolish and didn’t quite know how to respond. I just deleted my post and quietly changed the subject.
It is one thing to look up some bit of information, some small research on a cell phone or tablet. It is another to be a book addict and learn to be content reading electronically downloaded books that you can’t hold, or smell, or touch; whose pages you cannot turn or dog-ear. The difference parallels strolling through an art gallery and looking at the catalog of that art gallery’s holdings on your cell phone.
I do not mean to be rude, nor proud, nor haughty, nor pretentious. But I have a modicum of self-respect left, and I have no interest in being either a ward of the state or a freeloader on my friends. The dry spell of under and unemployment has stretched on for too many years. The number of years with no health insurance, with debt, and with over extended income have become too many. My husband has begun painting again, bless him, small paintings to offer for sale one of these days.
I am working on building a web site and moving toward announcing my writing project. When the project was given to me, and when I accepted it, I promised that I would undertake the project planning for a particular outcome. There are some who think I am naive and will not be successful. I can only say that I am preparing for this as if I am preparing to go to war. I am too old, out of shape, in debt and I have to work to change the odds against me. I have to go to basic training. I have to put my all behind the project. I have to get myself disciplined and in shape. I have to follow the leads of my recent research and study. I have to keep praying and keep believing that things will work out – not because I am a naive simpleton – but because throughout all of these years of underemployment we have survived and prevailed. Our marriage is strong – we have each other’s back. We have friends and colleagues who believe in us and encourage us. We keep trusting that we are not walking alone. Who knows – perhaps one day I can even splurge on a book or two.