In Praise of Books

IMG_20150502_161300355I mean in praise of physical books. I was reading Robert Fulford’s column on buying, reading or just keeping books to be read at some point (or maybe not) and I felt reassured. Actual books (not ones on Kindle or iPad) change the experience of the reader. Book covers, the feel of the pages in a book, the ability to touch and turn the corner of the page – all of this forms a unique relationship between the book owner and his or her book library.

I sometimes lie on my bed and look at my books and their presence in the room seems necessary and sustaining. Even the ones that I’ve always meant to read, but haven’t (“The Master and Margarita”). I see an older woman sitting in a downtown Starbucks, engrossed in her book and latte – alone among strangers, but not out of place. The book gives her a purpose.

Real books need real bookstores. A few years ago I went to a conference in Victoria and during a break, looked for and found Munro’s Books. What a fantastic place — no housewares or knick-knacks. Just books, lots of them and all kinds.

I’m in my non-reading phase now, just able to read short poems and articles. I was reading Wislawa Szymborka’s poem entitled “Nonreading” and I loved her take on Proust: “Bookstores don’t provide a remote control for Proust”…”Seven volumes – mercy. Couldn’t it be cut or summarized or better yet put into pictures.”

Watching “Mad Men” coming to a close. Some of the characters seem caught in their patters and are more and more isolated. I caught an episode of “The Good Wife” just before I watched “Mad Men” and it struck me that Alicia is a modern day, evolved Betty. Striving for perfection, not quite self-actualized.


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