Tuesday, October 9, 2012


“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. And inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

Groucho Marx


Let me linger with my favorite friends for a wee bit longer. Books. And this time I mean, specifically, paper printed books.

It was suggested, in a comment to my last post, that the solution to the space guzzling of my book-addiction is the great innovation of E-books. So true. So efficient. And also so contrary to the idolater in my nature.

To me a book is more than content. A book is presence. You can hug it like you would a dear friend, and glace at it with gratitude months after you met, got to know each other, and became part of each other’s lives.

It’s the idolater in me that keeps insisting the book, that physical presence in the form of a rectangular flattish sort of box, is a being that reciprocates to me what I am to it. I have hugged a book I loved, and even kissed a volume that opened my eyes just as only a dear friend could.

How do you hug an E-book? Pray tell. Really.
There is something ephemeral about all of e-things. Maybe it brings us back to the illusion that is all existence, or all matters of this world. Maybe there *IS* only thought, and E-books are a far closer representation of it. That’s a nice and very spiritual way to look at it. But I’m not evolved enough for this Jorge Luis Borges sort of ruminations in my everyday life.
I need my physical books, the way others hold to religious artifacts. I need physical reminders for what is supra-physical. 
And back to that deep thinker, Groucho Marx. E-readers now come with their own light. You now can read even inside of a dog.


  1. Hmmm, you posted the thoughts right out of my head. Laugh. Books are my friends who transcend time and space ... I know exactly where to find certain passages and I breathe a happy sigh for reading those words I needed most.

    I was also thinking that if there's a big huge magnetic reversal or something, the cyber stuff will be gone ... books will endure.

  2. I have a Kindle, I try to read books on that Kindle. It's like reviewing a manuscript. Just not satisfying. It feels more like work than pleasure. Everything about reading involves ritual to me-- selecting which book to read from the stack by my bed, fluffing the pillows and laying down, opening the book and then closing it with a bookmark when I'm done. Setting it down. A loving, comforting ritual that brings me peace and satisfaction.

  3. I hear you! I need my books too. I love being surrounded by them, even if I can't be reading just then. They are part of the family.

  4. Yep, I feel exactly the same way. A book I've been eagerly anticipating comes out this week (Michelle Cooper's The FitzOsbornes at War) and I could buy it on my nook. But when I think about how excited I am to own it, and how I can't wait to buy it, I really want a hardcover of my own.

  5. I haven't succumbed yet to the e-reader. It just isn't as tactile. And you're right, hugging a personal electronic device? I don't think so.

  6. Amen, Mirka! I love the look, feel, and smell of books! My husband took us to the English bookstore in Seoul last week, and I spent 45 min reading picture books! I bought only one since they're higher priced here. For me, e-books don't have the same charm.

  7. I guess I have to continue to challenge you print lovers. There are available applications to help you recieve hugs from people online. Try this link from the Guardian: Like-A-Hug? The Facebook vest that gives you a hug from your friends -
    It is only a matter of time till your book will hug you back. Reading my Kindle is so much easier than having to hold down those pesky pages in a heavy volume, with adustable print types and sizes and backgrounds... It remembers where I last read, helps me search who a character is, since I have already forgotten what I read last week... I double click on the definition of an obscure word and don't have to get up to look for the dictionary.
    I just don't understand you people, although I do love Groucho Marx's words and I am considering making them my motto.

    1. Oh, Hava- Your comment makes me think of that unwieldy volume of War and Peace we own. As a reader I had to make a chart of the characters just to keep the who’s who straight in my mind. How handy would it be to have it on a good E-reader. But that would never have the feel of that special edition; the leather cover, the gold edged pages, and the history of what are books. You’d probably say ‘good riddens’ to all that. We all use computers here, so shame on us for our misplaced nostalgia…. (?)
      Thank you for ‘Virtual Hug’ site. Hardly the real deal. Not. Even. Close.

  8. I love print books too. I love to feel them and see the cover every time I pick up the book. But I'm really getting addicted to my kindle too (and the great pink cover I got for it!), and the way it is so easy to go to buy a book at any time of the night or day and it's there in less than a minute.

  9. I agree that reading electronically seems more like work to me, at least at this point. There's something about a physical book that signals "downtime" that has a big effect on the reading-for-pleasure experience.

    Also, I have yet to read anything electronically that I have really loved. I don't know if that's to do with quality of book or type of media, but it's just a fact.

  10. I prefer print books, too. Though I have a Kindle and it serves its purpose. Instant gratification when I can't wait for a book. Still, I'll always love print books best. :)

  11. I haven't succumbed to the allure of an e-reader either. The only time I can see really wanting one is when I go on vacation - I tend to take a lot of reading material, and books really weigh a suitcase down!