Wednesday, October 9, 2013

We've Got an F-N Problem

It may be counterproductive to admit this here, but I'm part of a dying breed that prefers to do most of his leisure reading on printed materials as opposed to digital screens. I'm not bashing the latter. Both formats have their merits. I get that. I'm simply sharing my preference — an analog one in a digital world. I don't own a Kindle, and though I check out my fair share of short online pieces, I don't spend hours reading on a computer, tablet or smartphone. It's cliche, but I prefer the physical feel of a book, magazine or newspaper in my hands — paper cuts, newsprint ink and all. It's difficult to explain. I equate it to the belief that your meal somehow tastes better if you're eating it on the back porch on a warm, sunny summer day. It has something to do with the way "real" reading materials engage my five senses. Well, four of my five senses. I have yet to try eating my childhood copy of Green Eggs and Ham.

The mere sight of a particular book on my shelf can trigger specific, nostalgic memories, in much the same way hearing a particular song can instantly transport me to a bygone time. When it comes to "hearing" reading materials, I speak not of listening to audio books but of the simple sounds that I'd miss if I were to immerse myself in an e-world: the whoosh of crinkled magazine pages as I turn them; the flap-flap-flap as I thumb through the trimmed edge opposite the spine, book pages going a mile a minute; the thump of a hefty hardcover snapping shut.

I'd miss, too, the feel of turning an actual page, which sure beats clicking "Next page." No e-reader could mimic the weight of a novel, its open pages pressing down on my chest as I lie in bed at night, and no e-version of Sports Illustrated could fit in my hand as snugly as a real, rolled-up copy.

Don't forget the smell. Oh, the smell! What bibliophile's olfactory senses haven't gone into overdrive from the familiar scent of old, dog-eared, yellowed pages? It's as if the past, in all its glory, is seeping from the pages every time you take a whiff. So many untold stories. So many unanswered questions. Who owned this book? Where have its travels taken it? Oh, if the worn-out copies on my shelves could talk!

I'm not anti-technology, mind you. I do get much of my news from the Internet, but I can only stare at a cold, impersonal screen for so long. Reading my "hard copies" is easier on my eyes, easier on my soul. If I want to, I can scribble notes in the margins. I can clip articles for friends. I can fold the corners of pages that interest me. I can do all this without being affected by power outages, network connections and the like. No batteries required. Olivia Newton-John was right: Let's get physical.

For the time being, I thank you for getting digital and checking out today's post, which pertains to — you guessed it — books. Have you heard of the Little Free Library movement? Probably not. Little Free Libraries, which are typically the size of large mailboxes, are handcrafted boxes located on front lawns from coast to coast. They are filled with books for anyone to take. (For more info, visit

The premise of Little Free Library is simple: "Take a book, leave a book." In that vein, I give you: Take an f (from of), leave an n (for on).

That closes the book on today's post.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this post. I love books and need to hold a book and turn its pages. Nothing like a good book to transport me to another place. Time to go do just that.:)