Old Books

I grabbed an old book off my shelf the other day. It wasn't one I'd read. I picked it up at one of them tiny used bookstores in the hospital. The pages were faded a brownish yellow. The words were tiny. There was no light shining on it or buttons to push.  It had the strangest smell-- like leaves stuck in a jar.

It was just me and the strange voice of this very over-the-top character. And magic happened. I wasn't rushed. My headache left. There was no time limit; I could read one word or all of them without a gauge to pressure me into reading one more percent. No option to have it read to me while I did the dishes. I was forced to hold it and turn the pages.

And I did.

Between the editing, research, critiques, drafting, rewriting, studying... I forgot what it was like to read for pure enjoyment. I didn't add it to Goodreads. I didn't give it a review. I just read it and put it back on the shelf.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading on my Kindle or my computer, and I can get by in a pinch on the tablet-thingy my kids like, but it always feel like... writing-related work. Even reading new books with hardcovers and turning new pages with new smells feels like checking what's hot and what's not.

This didn't matter to my writing world, it was me cracking open the past and peeking in. The writer had different views and beliefs than me. Yet it was a timeless story told by a master storyteller.

Do you find a difference between old and new books? How do you balance ebooks in your life?


Richard Hughes said...

To be honest, I prefer reading books made out of paper. It's sad I guess, that I've not completely embraced the digital revolution. I'm into it most of the way, but some of the old ways hang on and feel a little better.

Valentina Hepburn said...

I like the paper ones too, but I can appreciate that as a writer I should embrace all mediums of reading. I've read a number of e-books and for me it's not the same as holding a book in my hands. I also have a very old book on my shelf. It's a cookery book I believe belonged to my great-grandmother and has been passed down through the generations. It thrills me to think that women down the years have held that book and used the recipes between the covers. The descriptions are fabulous, so unlike we're used to, like, 'take half a piglet and prepare for the stove'. Will we pass down e-books in the same way? I doubt it, and all of that history and information about our ancestors will be lost. I think I'm with Richard on this one. Good post and lovely to see you posting again, Tanya. Hope all is well.

Suzi said...

I still do both. Our library has ebooks, but the selection is nowhere near the regular book selection. So when I go, I always get a bunch of books.

So I don't feel like I've been missing out.

I'm reading a ebook now that made me realize other stuff I've been missing. I usually stick to contemporary YA with an adult contemporary, or a fantasy, slipped in here or there. But now I'm reading an interesting adult contemp that takes place in Africa.

From a writer's standpoint, I can find fault with certain things, way too much telling, but the story and the setting is super interesting, so it allows me to overlook those flaws and keep me really interested.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Richard, yes that I can understand.It's worth considering which things we embrace and how they impact us.

Valentina, half a piglet! I love it. Wow. That is a real gem.

Suzi, it is very hard to let go of the writer in us. I find this especially with ebooks, probably because that is how I edit my own work, and so it feels like I should be looking for fault and not just enjoying the ride. Nice to hear I'm not alone in this struggle.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya, I learned on Valentina's blog that your posting again. So glad, because I always like your posts. I loved this one. I read ebooks now and then, too, but like you (and Valentina), I love a real book I can hold in my hands, real pages to turn. And I love old books. I live within walking distance to two used book stores-- my downfall, needless to say: my basement is starting to look like another used book store. They carry an aura with them, as does the library branch five blocks away. I hope print books have a long future, despite the convenience of ebooks.

Anonymous said...

I still love real books, but I also love the convenience of ebooks. I love that I no longer have to cart around a big hard-cover. But I'll read that hard-cover at home. The library and bookstore are still my favorite places to visit.


shayla kwiatkowski said...

I LOVE old books. When I was young, our school was so far in the past, that we had books from the 20's. That's where I discovered Thornton Burgess. Ya know, a lot of the classics are available for free on kindle. Have you read the Girl of the Limberlost books (Gene Stratton Porter)? They were my mom's fav as child, and passed down the family. I do love my kindle, it helped me to clear out my thousands of books and helped me with my delusions of minimalism--- but you have a point about that paper books are how we will pass down. I only published e-book, but I am thinking of putting it to paper.. Good point.

shayla kwiatkowski said...

P.S. I do want to add, that due to my grandson's severe allergies, my daughter threw away all books made before a certain date (gasp!). She said they were made a certain way before such and such date, and "not safe." Sad, isn't it.