Not Quite Ready for Kindle

Guest Post by Pattie Baker, Author of “Food for My Daughters“Let me know when it comes out on Kindle,” my neighbor told me, referring to my recently-released book. That day is now, and I know this makes the book more convenient for those who rely on that technology, but I won’t be joining my neighbor as a Kindle user just yet. I love the feel and weight and smell of a book too much.


I love the dog-eared pages, sometimes the same one over and over as I squeeze lines or paragraphs into stolen moments in a busy day. I love the way wine and chocolate and whatever I was stirring in the pot while standing there holding the book stains the pages, leaving indelible reminders of my life. I even love the messy remains from writing in the margins, my left-handedness smearing the ink, and the way the curled edges of the cover tells the story of a sudden rain while I was sitting on a curb, reading, waiting for a child or a friend.

They are my constant companions, my books. Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Timothy, or Notes of an Abject Reptile (told from the point of view of a turtle, for goodness sake) goes on walks with me, my head bent down, my feet moving slowly, my ears and other senses attuned to obstructions along the side-walked way. A School for My Village, by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri (whom I just saw speak) sits beside me in the car, climbing into my lap, my hands, my heart at red lights and when I arrive somewhere five or ten (or if there is a God in heaven) fifteen minutes early, or whenever else I can steal a few moments to be alone with it, hearing his actual voice in my head.

I tuck books like Start Something That Matters, by Blake Mycoskie, in friends’ mailboxes, wrapped in twine, with a sprig of lavender from my garden. With Their Eyes, by Annie Thoms (a compilation of monologues by students of Stuyvesant High School following the collapse of the Twin Towers) lulls me softly to sleep with diverse, distinct voices, hopeful somehow for a future where these teens will one day make the changes needed for peace to prevail. A Year in New York, a whimsical book filled with watercolor sketches by Elisha Cooper when he was not yet a seasoned author/illustrator, resides permanently on my coffee table. Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit stands tall, like a dancer, next to my computer, ready for its annual re-reading.
Others are stacked up like building blocks or lay side-by-side like a three-course meal ready to be consumed. Gone with the Wind has made it from college to city to suburb (just miles from where Margaret Mitchell wrote it), and Moby Dick, which a professor told me not to read until I was older than 40, nags me with the fact that it is now past time for it.I relied on What to Expect the First Year as a new parent, month by month, milestone by milestone, while nursing first one baby, then the next five years later. That first baby, now almost off to college, read my copy of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn when perhaps she was really too young to do so, but she recently cited it in an essay as the book that has been most influential in her life.


My younger daughter and I just discovered a Bobbsey Twinsbook from my childhood. My maiden name, so strange to me now, is written in it in perfectly neat handwriting, my parental nagging to write in cursive even if the teachers don’t require it suddenly making sense to her. I tell her that beautiful handwriting can one day cause a loved one to cry at the mere sight of it, and I think of this later, when I write (with ink that doesn’t smear) in the copies of my book that I put away for my daughters for when they are older, for when they have children of her own, for when they have time or necessity to read it, for when, perhaps, there are no longer actual books. And as I feel the weight of my book, the weight of the moments of my life, I realize that I am not quite ready for Kindle.Pattie Baker writes the blog FoodShed Planet and is the author of Food for My Daughters: what one mom did when they towers fell (and what you can do, too). It is available as an actual book on Better World Books.

What Pattie particularly likes about Better World Books? The fact that a book is donated to someone in need for every book sold.What are your thoughts on the emergence of Kindles? Do you still love real books as much as Pattie does? Share your personal bibliophile anecdotes below…

*Note* The above blog post is a guest blog from our friend Patty, the author of “Food for My Duaghters.” This content does not necessarily reflect the views of Better World Books (as our lawyers make sure we say). We love having guest bloggers and invite you to email 11@betterworldbooks.com if you are interested in covering a book or topic on the BWB Blog. Thank you, Patty!

7 Comments

  1. Patty,
    I love your thoughts and the way you express. Just beautiful. So glad to call you my friend. I’ll work in your garden any time.

  2. My husband and I are both reading worn out, ragged copies of James Herriot books that belonged to my grandparents. My grandmother recently passed away and my grandfather died about three years ago. Opening the front cover of All Things Bright and Beautiful, I saw the inscription that my mother had written when she gave the book to my grandparents as a gift from our family. And, I agree with Ms. Baker, the feel of the book and the smell is wonderful. My grandparents house had a very distinct, comforting smell. A combination of smells from the wood burning stove and good home cooking. The books carry that with them too. There’s something Kindle can’t deliver.

  3. Patty -
    So beautifully said. I actually had to blink back some tears at your nostalgic recollections of these faithful paper friends we have. I’ll be sad for our children, if they miss out on moments like these that can’t be experienced when you’re holding a machine and staring into a cold screen…
    Wendy Braun

  4. The essay made me cry. I also have a Kindle, but I only use it when I go away for the winter. The other 8 months, I read “real books. I,too, love the feel of the book. Books have been my friends for many years. I recently gave my 1930s Nancy Drew books to my granddaughter. I inherited the 1930s Nancy Drew books from my aunt and then my oldest sister. I remember I was so excited to add my name to the inside cover! Yes, it is smeary!!!

    Again, thanks for the memories. I don’t think I will ever quit reading “real” books. But I have to admit that carrying the Kindle with 60 books downloaded takes up less room in the car going out to Arizona! And cheaper.

  5. Thanks for featuring A School For My Village. I work for Mr. Kaguri on behalf of the orphans and their grandmothers. The story and our work inspires me every day. We have created a short video that outlines the story of our students here: http://animoto.com/play/upNTsx91in67cqrAhHv61A.
    Thanks again for including us in your blog.
    Kindly,

    Kelly

  6. When I think of my mother, I see her with a book. She taught me how to read before I went to kindergarten fifty years ago. Unfortunately, she has lost her central vision due to macular degeneration. It was so sad to visit her and see that she had put her beloved books into cartons to be discarded. Thankfully, I was able to provide a home for many of her favorites in my personal library. She gets digital audio books from the library for the blind, but of course it’s not the same, and she rarely finds one of her favorites in the catalog. My son has begun recording “talking” books for his grandmother. Hopefully we can give her back something for the hours she spent reading to us.

  7. Thank you for your touching comments. Steve, let’s dig together in the community garden soon. I also want to show you the food pantry garden and the greenhouse operation.

    Courtney, Sue, and Denise–your generosity in sharing personal recollections really touched me. Thank you.

    Wendy–I guess the best we can do is pass down our love for actual books to our children, and be sure to provide them with opportunities to lose themselves in their smell and feel and tactile pleasure.

    And Kelly, I’m just about done with A School for My Village and am very inpsired by it. I love the posts my friend Betty wrote about her recent visit there. For anyone interested, she wrote about 4 beautiful posts, compelte with amazing photos: http://whatgives365.wordpress.com/

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