Recently, I was back home and went to the basement to look for some of my books. When I went down there, the books were gone! I had a mini freak-out. Rushing back upstairs, I went looking for my mother. “Mommy, where are my books??” (insert sad whimpering). Calm down, she says, they’re in a shelf in the storage room. Phew.
I own too many books. I have books lining the dresser of the guest room, books in the storage room, and books in my room. This does not even count the near 130 books I have in my apartment. These books, up until recently had been collecting dust in cardboard boxes and living indignant lives stacked on my carpet. I have so many books, I can’t remember which ones I own. I nearly bought Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic twice.
With the rising popularity of e-book readers and devices with e-reading capabilities like Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s I-Pad, and most recently, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, is a near-distant future without books possible? Will I be that person who still reads and writes on tree mulch? Is it going to be akin to Egyptian papyrus and quills? Just give me a powdered wig and let me sit in the corner and read, a part of me says. There’s nothing quite like the tacit connection of holding a book or writing on a piece of paper (I still hand-write the first drafts of most of my poems). Nor the charm of buying books second hand from street sellers under Waterloo Bridge in London or in New York’s East Village.
Yet, I did have the chance recently to look at a Kindle, and surprise, surprise, it’s easy on the eyes and actually *looks* like text on a piece of paper. Could I be converted? I bought my first digital camera about 3 years ago, so let’s not get too excited. And as someone who actually enjoyed an artistic foray into darkroom photography, I think there’s still a place for film photography and prints. So many of my favorite pieces were accidents of over or under-exposure, or spontaneous experiments in exposing hand drawings and making prints from double negatives (I think they call things like this lithographs: I am still not sure what this term means).
Anyways, sure I might end up getting a Kindle. More out of practicality, because if I buy any more books, there may be no room for me. I’m reinstating my moratorium from a few years ago with an addendum: rather than being able to buy a book only after reading a book, I’m going to say I can only buy a book if I *give away* two books. However, I also want a comfy chair and reading lamp for what I’ve decided is going to be my reading room and not my dining room. Flanked by an Ikea bookcase with 128 books.