For the Love of Books

Hi. My name is Lisa. And I am a bibliophile. {sigh} Yes. It is true. I’m addicted to [reading]. You might be wondering why there are brackets around the word “reading”. Well, let me tell you. My reality has changed a bit in the past 7 years. You see, I had a child. And married my wife. We try to keep our house in a somewhat minimally-chaotic manner. I work. My wife works. We, every once in a while, cook meals. Weย Panda do(es) laundry. There’s soccer practice and games. There’s homework and bedtime stories. There’s beach time, bath time, family time, couple time. There seems to be very little reading time.

Yes, I know. It is a matter of prioritization. I’m bad at that. Prioritization, that is. At the end of the day, I tend to prioritize time with my ‘ohana and relaxation (usually with a crochet hook in hand). After looking at my computer screens all day and reading and thinking and talking, picking up a book can seem demanding. But that doesn’t mean I am turning in my bibliophile membership card any time soon.

Several years ago I downloaded my very first audio book. WOW! A whole new world opened up to me. I originally thought that the audio book would be hours of entertainment for Shortstack, but I soon realized that it was also hours of entertainment for me. I work best and am most productive when my office isn’t in total silence. I like to hear the background buzz of something – the news, music, random conversation and, now, audio books. I feel so accomplished at the end of the day. Although I am {usually} not actively listening to the story, my multi-tasking tendencies absorb enough of the stories that I have a clue as to what is going on. It isn’t rare for me to replay a book over and over again – at work, on the way home, while in the kitchen – so even if I don’t pick up all of the story the first time around (usually in my office), I pick up enough.

I’m determined to keep my foot {okay – at least my big toe} in the bibliophile pool. My family likes to think that they’ll keep me in step with current technology. I was gifted a Nook a couple of birthdays ago by my awesome wife. I do think that she had an ulterior motive: if more of my books are electronic, there will be fewer “real” books stacked up around the house. Oh, my poor beloved. Things really didn’t work out that way. I do love the Nook; I love it when I travel, I love it when Shortstack needs entertainment while we wait for a table or we are just in a lull between what we just finished and what happens next. But the Nook has absolutely NOT convinced me to give up books. The weight of the book and the textur of the pages and book cover, the feel of the pages as I hold them in between my thumb and pointer finger right before I turn to the next page, the spines – bent, broken in some places. The stacks of them haphazardly balanced on the floor, on the sofa table next to my crochet projects, below my bedside table, slipped under the bathroom shelves … and piled under Shortstack’s pillows.

Yes, one of my proudest moments as a bibliophile was realizing that i passed my book addiction on to our little boy. He’s a card-carrying member of the State of Hawaii Library system. He has books scattered EVERYWHERE throughout the house; in his disorderly bookshelf, under his pillows, stacked on his desk, piled in every backpack he owns, lined up in the living room bookshelf {to be fair, that is where this mama is trying to corral his chapter books so that we know what he has and what he doesn’t}, littered across the sofa-side tables and ottoman, a few have even made it into the mamas’ room and there’s always at least one or two books and/or kids magazines at the kitchen table. Oh – he does this mama proud! And, he’s also adopted my tendency to start and keep several books going at the same time {we’re working on getting him to finish them as well}.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been fascinated and comforted by books. This weekend, while browsing in the Apple store, I overheard a woman talking to a sales person about why she is buying her 10-year-old an iPad. It seems that her daughter loves to read but shuns e-books and e-readers. Mom’s frustrated because their family has two kindles and she buys e-books to share and read in the family, but daughter much prefers to hold the book and feel the book in her hands. Mom’s bemoaning the cost of buying additional (hardcopy) books because she’s already spending money buying e-books for everyone else in the family to read and share. It took every ounce of self-restratint and ingrained social etiquette to not pipe up and say, “Honey – don’t spend the money for the iPad. Take the hundreds that you were just about to spend, give it to your daughter and introduce her to the world of used books – Goodwill, Friends of the Library, Amazon … oh! so many! – and let her be!! Those of us bibliophiles who are addicted to hardcopy books will likely never change! We may learn to appreciate the convenience of e-books. We may utilize them when it makes sense (i.e. when traveling and when carrying an additional 5 to 7 pounds of books in our baggage will tip the scales and requires higher fees – or a sore back). But, otherwise, we won’t give up books. So stop trying to make us!” But I didn’t say that. In fact, I sighed softly, sent a prayer of strength and a quiet cheer of encouragement to my fellow bibliophile in that family and moved on.

While walking out the store door, I reached into my purse, searching for the blue lego guy that Shortstack was asking for and felt the stacked pages of my most current read – tucked between the ever-present mess of items in my purse. The additional book weight assured me that the book-filled world of this bibliophile was still safe and sound.

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