Keep your Kindle; bring on the books

07/15/2010 12:00 AM |

I felt my heart quicken when I checked my inbox this morning. There, in the midst of numerous e-mails (some of which I could have done without), was a coupon for my favorite bookstore.

An avid reader, I could (if time permitted) spend the entire day bookstore browsing. For me, buying a new book is as exciting as buying a pair of red shoes. In fact, I always thought that when I retired, I would enjoy working in a small bookstore. But, alas, such a store is nonexistent and I digress.

Mom insists that my love affair with books started when I was 3 months old. Mom and Dad claimed that I would reach for whatever they were reading. Methinks that’s a stretch.

One of my earliest memories is of Dad reading to me from a “Golden Book” or “Aesop’s Fables.” Dad was a master storyteller. I would be lulled to sleep by tales of Mother Goose or Chicken Little. I wonder if Chicken Little had a deep psychological impact on me. I can, on occasion, slip into the “sky is falling” mindset.

While other gals wanted dolls, I was all about receiving books. I especially loved the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew series. I was so influenced by Nancy Drew that I decided to become a detective when I grew up.

At 13, I was placed under house arrest for the whole summer. (Don’t ask.) I was, however, permitted to go to the library on Saturday with Dad. I spent that unforgettable summer sitting in the backyard cherry tree reading Perry Mason and Agatha Christie mysteries. (I still had the detective thing going on.)

I was in my teens when I read (covertly, of course) “Peyton Place” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” First off, I didn’t comprehend most of what was going on. But I instinctively knew these books were not on the school’s required reading list. My then gal-pal Gladys and I conjured up some doozies of images and explanations. Remember, this was the late ’50s. Who knew?

I do have some peculiarities when it comes to books.

My book preferences are eclectic and run the gamut from fiction to the study of metaphysics and philosophy. But here’s the thing: I only read the metaphysical and philosophical stuff in the morning, after reading The New York Times. This seems a tad counterproductive.

When I acquire a new book, I write in my name and date on the inside of the book, and after I’ve read the book, I write a critique under my name and date it.

For me, fiction is best read over breakfast, lunch and at bedtime. I can’t sleep unless I read, even if it’s only two lines. I am so caught up in the characters that they occupy my dreams.

Nowadays, I never watch a movie based on a book that I’ve read. I find the portrayal of the characters very disappointing. (Remember, I dream about them.) Besides, the movies seem too bare-bones, except for the steamy love scenes that go on forever.

With the advent of wireless reading devices — “a book in 60 seconds!” — the book world is changing. If these handheld devices can download and store books, what will become of print books, bookstores and bookshelves? Will they go the way of vinyl records?

Ah, me. I am concerned.

Author Anna Quindlen writes, “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mainly of building bookshelves.”

In this respect, I am content. Like me, my kids are voracious readers, and yup, bookshelves are part of their dà cor.

My overflowing bookshelves mirror my passion for books. I love the feel of a book in my hand and I question how a cold, metal handheld device can match the sustaining joy that a book brings.

I’m not knocking technology, but I’m simply not ready for this.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

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