Not sure why writing has become a bit of a struggle lately. Actually, I am sure. The steady stream of bad news just drives my head deeper into book after book. A microscopic thread of good news? That I’m probably going to over-achieve my modest Goodreads reading challenge goal of 30 books.
Actually, as I remind myself a dozen times a day, there is good news. We are at this moment, and gratefully, well, as are our family members and friends. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. And that has to be quite enough for now, along with the unshakeable faith that’s always the best underpinning in hard times. So much to pray for, right?
But back to the “book thing.” I know that electronic readers are literally miraculous for people who can’t read “real” books, and I understand how convenient they are for travel. I’ve used my laptop to read a few books that came to me for pre-publication reads, or book club selections that I didn’t really want to invest in, but I never wanted a reader.
Ah… best laid plans of mice and men. One day, a little over a week ago, a mysterious package arrived, and it was definitely something I hadn’t ordered. You probably know where this is going. I tore the careful packing apart and gasped. An Amazon Fire tablet, a completely unexpected and obviously very generous gift from an obviously really dear friend. Suddenly, just like on the Hallmark Channel, it was Christmas in July.
This morning, as I was having my espresso (look at my stash of Nespresso–isn’t it lovely?), I found myself at the kitchen counter, reading just downloaded Bill Buford’s Dirt on the Fire tablet. And laughing out loud almost immediately, as Michel Richard, without missing a beat, tells the author that yes, he’s indeed a famous chef, and his name is Paul Bocuse, and the author for at least instant, actually buys it. If you’ve ever seen photos of these two ultra-famous French chefs, you’ll know why this is so funny.
Meanwhile, there the Fire sat, perfectly positioned to accommodate my varying degree of farsightedness, perfectly adjusted to the light in the room, perfectly angled for ease of reading. All I had to do was swipe (well, more like whisper it) to turn the page, or tap in the upper right hand corner to bookmark. Notes in the margin? No problem.
Okay, turns out I get it. Turns out I love it.
For the record, I’ll never give up “real books.” I have the next Louise Penny on order, I’ll still load up at the library book sale, and I’ll still patronize every independent book store I see on our trips north and south. I’d also recently bought a few books to get me through quarantine. One of them, William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace, was spectacular, by the way. But what a little wonder the Fire is! Not to mention all the other things you can do with it, like watch movies (which I probably won’t) and listen to music (which I probably will), et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Who knows what’s next? Audible? I doubt it–I like to SEE the words, the shape of sentences, the new paragraphs, on the page. But there may come a time when listening is good alternative–on the train from Paris to Avignon, par example? Well, not right now, but we can always dream, can’t we?
Watch for my next post, coming soon: notes on Marina Reznor’s new nonfiction release, based on her father’s service during World War II.