Posts Tagged ‘reading’

reading and waffles

One of my grandson’s favorite foods is waffles. He used to like them frozen out of a box – that started when he was teething and frozen waffles seemed to soothe his gums. He’s graduated to the real deal now.  He’s a very picky eater, believing not in the pyramid of food groups but in a tiny mound of individual food items. Waffles for breakfast. Only.

He’s five,  in kindergarten, and learning to read amazingly well. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that as he was riding home with his mom and dad last week he realized that nirvana was only  a few blocks away from home. A big shout from the back seat: “Mama, there’s a place called Waffle House!”

Of course they stopped and ate.


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I never considered buying a Kindle. Until, well, last week for about five minutes before I bought one.

It could be that I pre-ordered one of the new (cheapest) Kindles because since my house was burgled I’ve been suffering unreasonable urges to buy more stuff.

But I hope I ordered it because of the reason I’m telling people: That it’s uncomfortable for me, now that I’m older, sigh, to hold for long periods of time 500-plus page books. There are quite a few hefty books I’d like to read but won’t buy because I know after a couple evenings I’ll get cramps in my hands or get tired of shifting from side to side, up and down, at each new chapter.

Not to mention the fact, and oh, how I wish I didn’t have this fact to mention,  it’s getting harder for me to read at night. The perfect reading lamp isn’t keeping up with my imperfect eyes.

I am a book person. A book-of-cloth-paper-ink-binding-endpapers-design-bookplate-name-scrawled-in-covers-notes-in-the-margin-booky-smell-loving person. I even grew the herb costmary because I read the leaves long ago were used as bookmarks, with a light lovely fragrance that possibly repelled silverfish and other page eaters. And I used the leaves as bookmarks.


I scoffed at e-readers, agreed with the danger of corporations digitizing books and readers giving up on paper books. I can sit on my library floor and feel incredibly rich because I have a room filled with books. A little room, with books worth little in dollars but immeasurable amounts of contentment and stimulation. A room that says “look around, this is who I am.”

How could I get that from a piece of black-ish plastic? What if I downloaded a book that was so good that I wanted to share it with someone? What about the books not in Kindle format? Would I self-censor because of it?

And how would this –this battery-run, non-book  thing — add to the meaningfulness of my library? How could it enrich me?

Since all Kindles are back-ordered, I have time to wonder. I don’t know how much time. One day I’ll get an email saying my Kindle has been shipped, and it will be too late to stop it. I’ll keep it because I’m curious and a bit of a gadget girl. And because I’ll convince myself I will use it only to read those meaty books. But it’s a betrayal, isn’t it? Of whom or what, I need to decide.

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Oh, the joy of discovery just when you’re turning circles on the straight road of reason. I’ve been pondering In Defense of the Memory Theater, by Nathan Schneider.

His essay explores what we lose as our physical book collections, gathered by mind, heart and soul, are replaced with millions of restless individual books digitized mainly by google and amazon.

“Memory theater”comes from Frances Yate’s book The Art of Memory. I did not know that from the classical period through the Renaissance era people used mnemonic techniques to  retain, and thus pass along, “vast stores of knowledge before the invention of the printed page.”

Schneider writes: “In those millennia between the advent of knowledge worth clinging to and the invention of the printed word, the Western mind had a desperate obsession with memory—or, one could say, a sensible concern. The art of memory made possible the health of one’s soul, the possession of one’s culture, and the means of reaching God.”

He continues:

“In the age of inexpensive, printed books, our memory theaters have become both richer and more banal; we have entrusted them to our bookshelves rather than to tricks of mental contortion or cosmic schemata. As I look over my own shelf, I see my life pass before my eyes. The memories grafted onto each volume become stirred and awakened by a glance at the spine, which presents itself to be touched, opened, and explored. Without the bookshelf’s landscape to turn to, that manifest remainder from a lifetime of reading, how would one think? What would one write?”

And for me: “How would one feel?”

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