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

Downtown,

My bus-neighbors

Flipping pages around me.

God,

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

Bus-waiters,

But he likes people like me:

Adults who

Retreat silently for hours into his

Stacks,

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.)

th-11Recently

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

Stopped

Reading

Books?

What if I just

Allowed myself to get

Sucked into the

Riptide of

The

Screen

And never pick up a

Book

Again?

It would be easy enough to do. th-5

People seem to do it

All the time.

I had a deeply

Depressing

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

Read

A

Book.

“Just gimme my

Remote control and a

Six pack,”

He pronounced with a

Elbow-nudge.

“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

Discipline

To put my device down at the

End of the day

And pick up a book. th-12

Screens

Affect me like

Caffeine,

They make my brain

Quivery inside my skull,

They make this

Naturally

Focused

Worker

Into a candidate for

ADHD medication.

And the content on the screens:

I slurp up information

On the screen

Greedily,

Out of control,

Like how I used to drink.

All those Netflix series!

All those real estate listings!

All that celebrity news!

So many

Unexplored

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

Book,

I need that book

Now

More than

Ever.

The simplicity of the

Black and white pages,

The subtle texture of the

Paper

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

Drowsiness,

And then

Sleep,

Is a deeply

Precious  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

Life.

And in this

Increasingly

Screenified world,

I’m more sure of that

Than ever.

th-7

 

 

 

 

 

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