Sunday, November 4, 2012
The Literature Rant Post.
I love technology as much as the next person, but you know what I don't love? Electronic books. I understand it, sure, and if you love it, kudos to you, but here's the thing: There is nothing that will replace the way it feels to turn the page of a book. Actually turn it, like, with your hand. And books have a scent, it's a smell all their own, and I just sometimes think about my children with their electronic books, and they'll never understand the joy of lugging books home from the library or the smell of old pages and how it's different from the smell of new pages, and they, like so many other people lately, will not understand the power of the printed word.
There is nothing like seven books from the library and the way that stack of books looks on your bedside table. Did you know you can balance teacups next to your bed at the perfect height with a stack of 10-12 paperback novels? You probably didn't know that. And you probably don't know the excitement of reading a book under your covers with a flashlight because you can just turn up the backlight on your Kindle.
I had a nightmare that people were burning books and I kept shouting, "He was right! Bradbury was right!" but nobody understood and nobody listened, because nobody loved the printed word enough to care.
I guess I shouldn't complain about electronic books as long as they keep people actually reading, but I'm terrified of waking up one day and realizing a bookshelf for actual books is a futile device because every book I've ever needed is shoved inside my IPad. (If you've ever seen my bookshelf this is even sadder, because that thing is a beaut.) Books are not only beautiful by nature, but actually, physically beautiful. Have you seen the cover of Catcher in the Rye? And that's before you even open the thing and discover literature itself.
And literature itself! OH! Come on! Read more, for goodness sakes, people! I have never read Fifty Shades of Gray myself (and probably never will), but WOMEN ACTUALLY OPENED UP A NOVEL. This is a success, I say! And they liked it! Maybe they should try Jane Austen next. Maybe they should try Kurt Vonnegut next.
Here is my plea, really, at the end of the day: Just keep reading. The fact that you're reading this right now is hopeful. If I wrote a book (and I will someday), I hope you'd pick it up at B&N or something. Even download it on your Kindle (though the B&N purchase would smell better, I promise). As long as you're reading. That's my plea. Read Shakespeare. Read Chaucer. Read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Read the Harry Potter series beginning to end. Read some poetry. Read Anna Quindlen's Commencement Address at Villanova. Read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and rejoice because you're a wallflower, too.
And here's some good news: It's getting colder outside, so you can make tea and sit at home and read. This is the best time of year for reading. It will save you from seasonal depression and make you literate and well-read and incredibly dateable. I mean, I date readers. Usually. Or try to turn them into readers, at least. By the power of cuteness or something.
But in all seriousness, there is something about the printed word that is growing increasingly mortal. I am 17 years old and I have seen entire nations destroyed in my lifetime. We are a generally destructive species, but if we destroy literature, destroy the printed word, what comes next? Art in general? Humanity?
We're an apocalyptic novel already, my friend. Go read one if you don't believe me. Just stay word-hungry.
All my love,