Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Ends

by Cathy Labath

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. – Henry David Thoreau

Beware the man of one book – Saint Thomas Aquinas

On March 15, 2009 I bought a Kindle electronic book reader and since then I have read only one book. Before the Kindle I used to read, on average, one book every two weeks. I love to read books. I hate to read books on my Kindle.


Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? – Henry Ward Beecher

For me reading a book starts with the selection of a book – the foreplay. I used to love to spend hours at the bookstore running my finger along the spines of the books until I found one that I chose to examine more closely. Then I would carefully remove it from the shelf, caress the first few pages and for a few minutes become intimate with the author. And then I would take the book home to devour completely.

I don't like selecting books to read via computer. The Kindle leaves me cold.

I was shopping for birthday presents for the granddaughters the other day at Target and aimed my cart directly for the book aisle. I started to enter, tore myself away with a reminder to self that I had a Kindle, felt a little depressed, entered, and bought a couple of books as birthday presents, my cravings satisfied. The granddaughters don't have a Kindle.

Regretfully I passed up the last library book sale. That was as difficult for me as passing by a tray of chocolate toffee from Lagomarcino's – the local confectionery.

(I must admit I recently bought some books at the thrift store telling myself they were going to turn into altered books).


To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser. – Robertson Davies

My baby sister was an alcoholic. She went to so many counselors that she finally decided to become one herself. Of course she now feels compelled to offer unsolicited advice to her older sister – me.

"You know, you have an addictive personality too."

"How so?"

"You use books to escape."

Either I now have nothing to escape from or the Kindle cures book addictions. Now I don't read paper books. I don't read electronic books.

When I took the granddaughters to the library the other day I checked out some quilting books because they don't come in Kindle form. I felt a little guilty when I did so – like I was cheating on my Kindle. Maybe I am addicted?


I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. – Anna Quindlen

Our house is full of books. There is not a room which doesn't contain a bookcase or a stack or two of books – cookbooks, how- to books, books on coin collecting, astronomy, Irish history, gardening, genealogy, quilting, old college textbooks, philosophy and psychology books, Encyclopaedia Brittanica, mysteries, true crime and children's books.

My uncle used to keep his clothes on the back of a chair in his bedroom. In his closet he had bookshelves. When I visited in the summer I couldn't wait to grab a book from one of his shelves and sit out on the lawn on an old quilt with a glass of grandma's freshly squeezed lemonade and read. I want my grandchildren to have that experience when they come to visit. Instead they will probably ask to borrow my Kindle and drink some type of energy booster while seated in an easy chair.

I am wondering now what, besides dust and a Kindle, will appear on my bookshelves.


Most new books are forgotten within a year, especially by those who borrow them. – Evan Esar

I used to receive shipments of hardback books a couple of times a year from one of my sisters in California and a sister-in-law in Texas. We all read mysteries by the same authors. They both had to read them when they were first released. I would then get shipped their hand-me-downs. After I read the books I would loan them to someone else or give them to the Friends of the Library for their sales.

Now there is no more sharing, no more giving, no more lending. The three of us have Kindles!


Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier. – Kathleen Norris

I'm Information Technology Officer for ten medical labs. As the title implies, I work with technology 10 hours a day, four days a week- computers, automated instruments, interfaces, networks, routers, electronic medical records. The mind reels at how quickly technology changes; is out-dated. The mind grows weary dealing with users who don't understand new or old technology. At the end of the day I don't want technology. I don't want to read an electronic book on a Kindle. I want to curl up on the couch under an afghan with a cup of tea, and a good book. I want to be able to hold a handmade bookmark or easily peek at the ending of a book to see if my favorite character lives on. I want to be able to dog-ear a page with a quote I like or stick a post-it-note on a page that needs further research.

John Naisbitt summed it all up in High Tech/High Touch : "The two biggest markets in the United States are consumer technology and escape from consumer technology."

I do need to escape!


I think it is good that books still exist, but they do make me sleepy.- Frank Zappa

If you have the habit of falling asleep in bed while reading, be forewarned that a Kindle hurts far more than a book when it hits your face. I suppose it's something I will have to get used to someday when I start reading again.


1. I rarely buy anything for myself. If I do, my self imposed rule is that it must be necessary or prove itself useful. I don't buy for myself on a whim.

2. I convinced myself a Kindle was necessary because I spend too much money on books - with one trip to a bookstore I could easily spend more than the cost of a Kindle. (Of course books are necessary because they keep me sane- see high tech/high touch, means of escape, addiction). I have to cut down on spending because I want to retire in about seven years.

3. I don't waste. I'm cheap. I'm stubborn. Can't throw it away and buy books. I convinced myself I needed a Kindle.

Cathy Labath ©2009

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