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Curl up with the real thing

I read somewhere that this is supposed to be the year of the electronic book. 

It was probably a seed planted by Amazon.com, which just happens to sell a nifty electronic tablet — the Kindle — that stores innumerable books electronically.

And it only costs $489, plus shipping. I’m told most newly released “books” cost just $9.99 to download, too.

Personally, I can’t see it finding its way into all that many households, not just yet anyway. 

If you travel a lot, I suppose it might be useful. If you need to store a lot of reference material and take it with you, that gadget might be a godsend. 

But, I just don’t think many Americans are going to give up their precious books and newspapers quite so fast. Internet be darned, it’s tough to curl up with a book on the couch without that tactile, warm and curmudgeonly book that forces you to flip every delicate, inked page by hand, one at a time. 

I may be joined at the hip with my laptop computer, but I readily admit that I’m a book lover. I’m quite unabashed about it, actually. 

There is an innate pleasure, sometimes joyous rapture that can pour over you as you hold a good book or newspaper in your hand. Whether it is settling in for some quiet time on the weekend on the couch or spreading out the Sunday paper on your bed and reading through your favorite sections, it’s not hard to understand that physical connection we lovers of reading are clearly addicted to.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I do a lot of reading on my computer. But the electronic version of writing lacks that personal connection to a vessel of paper and ink that fulfills some deep three-dimensional need that resides somewhere near our soul. It’s a need that yearns to be fulfilled by something laptops can’t imitate.

Reading a book is not only a basic skill we must master to become successful in life, it provides a unique form of adventure we can take anywhere and anytime we wish. To me, a book is the best part of an airline flight. I so very much enjoy reading that I often smile when I’m told my flight is delayed, quite satisfied to dive back into another chapter that whisks me off to some other, more interesting locale. 

Reading can be a passion and I hope that love of reading and communication and adventure was passed on to you early in life. If not, it’s never too late to start.

It’s also not very costly. We’re fortunate to have some very nice libraries in the Mission Valley that charge either nothing or very nominal fees for some of their services. You can browse their selections in the comfort of their warm and quiet spaces, or even utilize one of their computers to surf the Net.

But don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending more time sliding books into your hands and sliding your fingers down the edges of pages. 

These libraries need and deserve our continued support. They’ll have to be efficient like all the rest of us, but it will be a sad day when local libraries are traded off for Internet links that serve as portals for Kindles and the like.

Contribute to the library whenever you can, but also do your part in bringing others, both young and old, into the fold. Show them what a wonderful adventure and passionate day they, too, can have in a room filled with shelf upon shelf filled with wonderful books.

I don’t believe a “page-down” key or LCD screen will make us any less literate, but a it’s hard to imagine cuddling up with it in front of a toasty fire on a cold, wintry day. 

Nor can I imagine willing my library to my grandsons via a handheld device that requires batteries.

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