Tuesday, August 10

Creative Reading

I recently read this book. Its a children's book, written in the 1960s, but I had never even heard of it until I found it, sitting on a bookstore shelf a few weeks ago. I'm glad to have discovered this great work of E.L. Konigsburg as an adult. I don't think I would have understood or quite appreciated the layers in this story if I had read this first through a child's eyes.

The publisher's summary reads: Claudia knew that she could never pull off he old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back. She didn't like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere. To a large place, a comfortable place, an indoor place, and preferably a beautiful place. And that's why she decided upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

I dare anyone with an imagination to pick this book off the bottom shelf, read that summary and then not buy. I don't often buy books and I certainly don't buy them new, but when I saw the last and only copy of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler I felt that lightening bolt that always crashes to earth when true love finds its match. I can't help but muse about the novelty of cherishing an honest-to-god, in-your-hands, ink-printed-on-paper book. There is no other feeling like it in the world. Are we seriously going to replace this kind of thing with electronic devices? In my tiny apartment I have two bookshelves filled with books and more piled on the side. I love the way these works of art look and feel. They catch your eye and your hands all at the same time.

But I fear that books are sitting right next to the polar bear on the endangered species list. I sit here and wonder what the popularity of ebooks and the publishers quest for the all mighty dollar will mean for those of use who are still poor and/or backward enough to frequent the library. What will happen to our quiet days of browsing in actual buildings filled with physical shelves? Will there still be a place where an interesting cover or odd title might catch our eye or will we be forever cursed with lists of "New Releases" and "Best Sellers"?


The Bug said...

Ooh - that sounds great! I have certain authors that I always buy their new books (although Dick Francis died this year). I don't know that I'll ever BUY electronic books. I do download them from the library - for the convenience of being able to read in a dark room without a book light. But I don't prefer to read that way - it bugs me.

On the other hand, with my nearly one hour commute each way I LOVE audio books (again from the library)! I usually listen to books I probably wouldn't buy. The other month I listened to Lemony Snicket read by Tim Curry - heaven!

Katy said...

If I'm being honest, I think my real aversion to the idea of ebooks is that I'm too cheap to pay for the ereader. If I just had that reader thing I know the idea of buying a book without leaving the house would be very appealing.

And I'm a huge Tim Curry fan! What a treat to get to listen to his voice as you drive. Have you listened to the Harry Potter books? I think those are the best read audio books I've ever experianced.