Wednesday, December 21, 2016

book ends

My blogger pal Jennifer occasionally chides me for having gone over to the dark side of reading.

She is not referring to my book choices (though, I suspect she would not smile on some of my choices), but to my reading tool. My blessed Kindle.

Jennifer extols the look and feel of books. How they brighten a home, divulging clues of the owner's personality. How the heft of the book in a reader's hand gives weight to the author's words.

Felipe will then chime in that reading on a Kindle is the only sensible way to enjoy reading. Books are immediately available for purchase. And the Kindle is light enough that whole libraries can accompany the owner wherever she travels in the world.

As much as I enjoy the convenience of my Kindle, I have to admit Jennifer has a very valid point; I share a lot of her aesthetics. When I sold the Salem house, most of my library went in boxes that eventually ended up at Goodwill (book 'em, danno). It was a shame to break up the collection. I had been working on it for almost 50 years.

But I retained a few books. Mostly biographies, but also some of my favorite theology writings. I thought my mother would enjoy reading them. So, they found a home in her office, guest bedroom, and living room. As a renter, I thought I would no longer need a library. As a result, I read exclusively by Kindlite.

That changed two years ago when I bought my current house in Barra de Navidad. Not only was there a library, but the former owner left behind a bookcase. A small one. Sort of a starter library kit.

And that is what it looks like today. A starter kit. In December, I brought the rump of my former library to Mexico. It was like meeting up with a handful of friends who had survived a massacre.

When my family arrived at the start of this month, they came bearing gifts. Book gifts.

My brother brought me a hard cover copy of Billy Collins's latest collection of poems: The Rain in Portugal. I had already read it on my Kindle. But there is something about poetry that works far better on the printed page.

Poems are as much visual as they are aural. And Kindles, due to their limited screen size, simply do not capture what poets try to do in forming the visual presentation of their work.

It was a welcome addition to the library -- slipping in between Alexander Hamilton and Charles Colson. It almost made me wish I had kept the other Collins books I had collected.

For my birthday, my mother brought along two books. Ben Carson's A More Perfect Union and Dr. David Jeremiah's Is This the End?: Signs of God's Providence in a Disturbing New World. She gave me the Carson because she is quite fond of him as a man, his soft-spoken manner, and his politics. The Jeremiah is a theological reminder of the comfort we find in our connection with God is a world of troubles.

The Carson and Jeremiah will rest on my night reading table until I finish them. They will then join the remainder of their ilk in the burgeoning library. It will almost be like old times not forgotten.

And, yes, I know my books will age in our heat and humidity here. But, so will I.

My books will undoubtedly outlast me, however. And that is fine with me.  

Maybe that is another reason we collect them. They are another brush with immortality.

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