Wednesday, May 15, 2013


"With 99% of the books we can type in the title and search for the right edition, but that doesn't work for the Bible, because when you type in "Bible" every edition of a Bible pops up. 
And you can't refine your search by searching for author, obviously."
--Bookstore Customer Service Man, 
gleaning with hopeful eyes the prodigiously expansive shelves of Bibles in the religious section of the bookstore, on phone with a customer who, I can only assume, was looking for a specific type of Bible.

This post is about two things, and two things only:
my mother.
And how I believe books are greater than electronics.

Item the first:
Essentially, I am basically in huge, irreparable debt to my mother.

A good example of the kind of how indebted I am to her is when we went to buy Caribou Coffee (God bless the USA), and I knew how to answer the trivia question that gave you ten cents off the Caribou Coffee product of your choice. The longest river in Europe is, in fact, Russia's Volga river.
How did I know this?
I knew this from when my mother taught me Russian history in eighth grade.

Abe said it best, folks: all that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

She agrees.
She once sent me this song to emphasize a point:

 She's a riot, no?

All this makes me nervous, because she keeps suggesting that I maybe should take an electronic-book-reader-doohiggy with me when I travel, so I don't lug along five hundred books with me.
Historically, her track record of being always right indicates I should listen to her.
But then my heart leaps to my tongue, and I cry out:
Is nothing still sacred?


The Scene: a bookstore.

The Object: to find the (apparently) incredibly illusive comprehensive biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope, by George Weigel. 
The Problem: Instead of being sold a flesh-and-blood copy of the book, printed on bona fide paper with actual physically printed ink, I am now the importuned object of an "electronic reader/book/table-doohiggy" sales pitch:

"You can even connect it to Google maps and check email on it..."
The poor bookstore Sales Lady's pleas fell on not only deaf, but positively irate ears. 
Madame, I said, in very pronounced tones (in my head, obvi.), the more you attempt to sell me a product that sounds more like my laptop, and less like a book, the less willing I will be to buy it.
And with a cheerful, "Thank you!" I shook the electronic dust of the bookstore off my feet.

Maybe my point is somewhat crippled by the fact that I'm making it on the Internet, where reading basically goes, not to die, per se, but to fall into a comatose-like stupor.
Computer and TV screens, I have been taught (by my angel mother, I might add,) to believe, essentially turn our brains into giant vats of melted Peeps.

But my main concern is that I fundamentally distrust computer screens to be able to lift anyone out of themselves.
And maybe I'm just a prejudiced little luddite.
But the singular pleasure of reading a book with a good solid cover and easily dog-eared pages while hiding under one's bed, or in a cozy couch (not too cozy, or you fall asleep!), or in a sunlit little nook eating a sandwich, is simply too overwhelmingly wonderful for me to ever abandon.

“I cannot live without books.” 
― Thomas Jefferson, who believed 
in inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness aka books

And so I have a suitcase half-filled with socks and other essentials, but mostly filled with books.

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