Good morning Saloners! A new week, new month, and new year--I'm still a little stunned that 2011 is really here. Some days I still find myself dating documents as August! Guess it's time to finally get with the times...or is it.
Scott and I were eating dinner last night and during a lull in conversation I let out a big sigh and asked Scott what I should write about for my Sunday post. After explaining with a bit of exasperation that my topic needed to be at least a little book related, Scott said I should write about e-books. But I don't have any experience because I've been so resistant!
Yes, all the normal arguments--I can't flip the pages, hold the weight of the book in my hands or on my lap, lend it to a friend to read, I have so many books in my library it seems silly to download electronic ones before reading the other first, bookmarks will become obsolete, etc etc. But Scott pointed out another aspect that I hadn't really thought about: passing books down through the generations.
Sunday Salon: Paper Books as Keepsakes?
My Great Aunt Fran had a beautiful and impressive library with over 10,000 catalogued books. Before she passed away several years ago, I loved visiting her home--in the historic Salt Lake City Avenues--and browsing through the titles. I could have spent hours in her library grabbing at gorgeous editions of books I had already read and loved and curious copies of books she collected over the years. Many of her books came from her second husband's library and many of those from the libraries of his family.
I've always joked, but firmly believe, that I inherited my all bookish tendencies from Aunt Fran. When she passed away, my mom asked if I would like anything from her house to remember her and I emphatically noted BOOKS. Oh the treasures she had on her bookshelf! Including a first edition Huckleberry Finn. My mom and grandmother took away several boxes of books for me and they have been lovingly displayed on my shelves since then. Most are too fragile to actually read, but they're a piece of her and a piece of family history. The Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in the picture below are fairly common editions of the books, but Fran's first husband, Glen, purchased them in 1943 while stationed in San Diego. He died shortly after in the Pacific theater of World War II and these books are the only keepsake I have for a great uncle I never met.
Yes, my books from Aunt Fran are priceless to me, but I love finding myself halfway through a second-hand read picked up at a library sale or Half-Price Books and discovering a little token someone has left behind--plane tickets, pictures, playing cards, receipts, to-do lists, bookmarks, etc. I've started making the habit of randomly leaving my own mark in books I read, tucking away this or that for someone to discover in another time. Not to mention inscriptions people leave behind, first editions copies, and even author's signatures in the front cover. All of this is lost with the move to electronic books--the passing down from generation to generation not only the books that we loved so much but also little pieces of ourselves. Scott, who doesn't enjoy reading and thinks my collecting habit verges on the ridiculous, explained to me that the move away from paper is an injustice to future generations. While I wouldn't take it that far, it does provide an interesting twist to the paper versus electronic argument.
I honestly didn't mean for this post to go on for so long--but when I started looking at my shelf of collectibles(above...please ignore nasty iPad smudges), which holds century-old Balzac (top shelf), Dickens (middle shelf), and Twain (middle to bottom), I realized how much I love and cherish my books. My final statement in my dinner-time conversation with Scott about books was "Now I really don't want to get rid of any of my books!" Scott gave me an eyeroll and changed the subject.
I don't really have any concrete questions for today as this post ended up being more of a ramble than a focused topic for discussion, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on books for future generations. Do you look at books as treasures to be passed down or are they simply a means of entertainment for the moment? How do you feel about the transition between paper and electronic books?
I hope you're all having a wonderful New Year's weekend! Scott and I might try to sneak in a showing of Tron, but otherwise I look forward to a lazy day of finally reading your end of 2010 thoughts as well as any other interesting things you've written in the past few weeks. I also plan to try and find at least a few books that I can part with and finally finding a book to be my first read of the year.
Many Happy New Year's Wishes!!