Surrounded by screens, I need books now more than ever

thThe other day

On the morning bus to work,

I sat amongst

Five people

Reading books.

It was lovely and cozy,

The morning sunlight

Streaking through the windows,

The heater blowing warm air

On my legs

As we wended our way


My bus-neighbors

Flipping pages around me.


I love books.

I love reading books,

I love watching people

Read books

(I can’t help but

Glance over people’s

Shoulders to see

What they’re reading.

I try to be as

Uncreepy as possible.) th-10

I love browsing musty used

Book stores–

I have one of the best

Used book stores

Two blocks from my house on

University and Snelling,

Midway Books,

Run by a curmudgeonly old man,

His long, stringy hair flattened to his scalp

With a dirty sweatband.

He hates kids and


But he likes people like me:

Adults who

Retreat silently for hours into his


Whose purchases he makes

Comraderly comments on:

“Ah, spending some time with

Sinclair Lewis

This weekend?”

(Alas, I did waste a

Month this fall studying one of our state’s

Literary luminaries to discover that,

Despite his

Nobel Prize in 1930,

He kinda sucks.)


I finished a good book–

Margaret Atwood’s latest

Short story collection–

And didn’t have another book

Lined up to immediately start.

If I don’t have a book going,

Or one to look forward to,

It’s typical for me to

Feel adrift and irritable.

This time,

My reaction was stronger.

It was more like panic and fear.

What if this was the moment when I just




What if I just

Allowed myself to get

Sucked into the

Riptide of



And never pick up a



It would be easy enough to do. th-5

People seem to do it

All the time.

I had a deeply


Conversation with a colleague recently.

He was talking about how,

Since he reads all day

(On screens)

The last thing he wants to do

Outside work hours is




“Just gimme my

Remote control and a

Six pack,”

He pronounced with a


“You know what I mean?”

th-1I was silent.

He didn’t know that I

Write books

In my spare time,

And I didn’t want to

Make him feel like a

Jackass by

Telling him.

But I kinda got it.

Even for a bibliophile like me,

It takes something like


To put my device down at the

End of the day

And pick up a book. th-12


Affect me like


They make my brain

Quivery inside my skull,

They make this




Into a candidate for

ADHD medication.

And the content on the screens:

I slurp up information

On the screen


Out of control,

Like how I used to drink.

All those Netflix series!

All those real estate listings!

All that celebrity news!

So many


Digital rabbit holes.

Feed my head.

Feed my head.

Feed my head.

th-14That’s why

Even though it takes

One moment of

Discipline to

Close the laptop or the

Tablet cover

At the end of the day

And pick up my


I need that book


More than


The simplicity of the

Black and white pages,

The subtle texture of the


Give my brain

Space to

Delve deeply

Into the words,

The ideas.

Books have always been

A joyful part of my life.

But these days,

They’re a critical one.

To read a book th-16

At the end of a day

And let it lull me into


And then


Is a deeply

PreciousĀ  and

Necessary daily retreat.

To know that

There are enough books out there

To fill my lifetime

And then some,

That I’ll never run out of

Books to read

No matter how long I live

Is one of the things

I love most about


And in this


Screenified world,

I’m more sure of that

Than ever.








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