I needed chapstick. That’s why I stopped at Meijer (our local supermarket) first thing in the morning. I pulled into a space relatively close to the door so I could get in and out and go about my day.
There was a cart in the space next to mine.
I noticed a brown paper bag on the bottom. The way down bottom. Where you’d put your mega-sized package of toilet paper or mac and cheese.
Inside the bag were about a dozen paperback books.
Interesting, I thought. Who would do that?
So, I hopped out of my van and snapped a few pictures. A woman in an SUV looked up from her texting and looked at me like I was a crazy woman.
I thought about telling her that I’m a writer and that makes my crazy lady badge justifiable. But she had gone back to her texting.
The closer I got to the books, the more my curiosity flared.
What was the story of these books? Where did they come from? Why did someone just dump them?
Then I got a little melancholy about them. No. I know. Books are paper and glue and don’t have what kids these days call the “feels” (that’s whippersnapper talk for “emotions”). But I became sad because I see the culture of paper books declining in exchange for ebooks.
Now, I don’t think ebooks are bad. Not at all. They have people reading. They’re compact. They’re accessible. And they aren’t for me.
I’ve tried. I’ve got a Nook. I have the Kindle app on my laptop and phone and iPod and tablet (why in the WORLD do I have all those devices?). I simply do not enjoy reading from an electronic thing-a-ma-jobber.
I prefer paper. It has a texture which is pleasing. The weight of a book anchors me, reminding me that it’s time to read (not time to check Facebook or Amazon stats or Twitter). I am also a book sniffer. Yes, I admit it. They smell good.
But the best part of paper books? They can be passed down.
This summer I read the 14 Oz books to my kids. As much as I could, I gave the different characters their own voices and mannerisms. We giggled through certain parts and felt the tension build in others. I held the book up so they could examine the pictures. My kids often played “Oz” in the backyard.
I read from the collection we had in my home when I was a kid. These were the books my mom held as she read to us, giving the characters their own voices and mannerisms.
This is the last of the collection. Glinda of Oz. I remember writing our last name in it. Riggs (note: the ‘s’ is below a little). My boys make their ‘i’s the same way I did.
These books held memories. No. Not just that. They are part of my family heritage. Something that links me and my kids to who we are and where we’ve been.
You just don’t get this kind of experience with a glossy screen and fancy finger-swiping page turning (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
The other day my son and I were discussing how fun it was to read these books. He raised his eyebrows and said, “Do you think I could have those books to read to my kids when I’m a grown up?”
This is just another reason why I won’t abandon the paperback.