I don’t read paper anymore.
I’ve been having a rough week and I couldn’t muster the energy to write. I decided that as an avid reader I had so many great passages to choose from that I would look at my underlined and annotated portions of some of my favorite books. I grabbed East of Eden, probably my favorite adult book, and looked through. I smelled the pages. I enjoyed the musty odor of the paper and ink. I grabbed the complete works of Oscar Wilde and noticed how thin the paper was in comparison to the thicker, rough paper of the Steinbeck. I cracked open The Golden Apples of the Sun, a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury, who I think is wildly under appreciated.
Opening these books felt like coming home, in a way. Not only was there a certain comfort there, but it wasn’t the same for me now as it had been, which is a homecoming theme in my life lately. I had changed too much to be able to appreciate the books as I used to. I couldn’t tap them and make the print larger, which is the main reason I read via electronic device these days. I couldn’t search for what I was looking for, nor could I make the page easier on my eyes as the sun went down. I also do not annotate by writing revalations I came to anymore, either because I’m older and not in the “highlight everything” mindset I had as a college student, or because of the device itself, and I missed that, too. I also missed the creases of my dog-eared pages (I know that book lovers all over the place are gasping, but it’s who I am) and the dirt smudges on the corners of the spines. Despite the differences though, I found a fundamental truth.
Paper and ink. Gigabytes and electricity. Either way, books are magic. I am grateful to authors who have given me the gift of escape, for an hour or a day or a week. I am so thankful that I have traveled through pages and had my soul painted on by them. It’s a gift.
I will leave you with these beautiful words that I rediscovered from Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Fog Horn.”
“We need a voice to call across the water and call ships; I’ll make one. I’ll make a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was; on the voice that is like an empty bed all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. I sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns. I’ll make me a sound and an apparatus and they’ll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.”
Thanks, Mr. Bradbury.