Thursday, July 27, 2017

Just Because You Should, part 2

I feel like books just aren't fashionable anymore. I know it can't be true, not exactly. But I do wonder how likely it may be.

I just say books, and not reading. I think people are reading as much as ever. I hope they are reading. But books seem to be a medium not necessary anymore.

The Kindle, or Nook, or whatever app seems so much more convenient. You can have dozens or hundreds of books in your cloud and that bookshelf, well, you just don't need that heavy piece of furniture anymore.

I read Sinclair Lewis's Main Street recently. I read it on my Kindle. Yes, on my Kindle. I have entire rooms filled with books and bookshelves, and I read Main Street on my Kindle.

I've read a few dozen books on my Kindle over the last few years and I still don't know how I feel about the experience. I like that I don't have to wear my reading glasses and when I get tired, I just make the font bigger. I like that I can highlight passages with my fingertip. I like that I can look up a word easily.

What I don't like is that there is no charm in the font, the paper or the layout of any given book on the Kindle. I don't write the quotations I like in a notebook, so I don't remember them. I also don't remember the meanings of the words I look up as easily as when I look them up in a dictionary.

I loved reading Main Street.

The book, at least on the surface, was both Carol and Will Kennicot and the town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. And the characters and the setting would be compelling enough to commit to the book.

But, Sinclair Lewis gives so much more. The setting of the prairie, the descriptions of the Swedes and the abuses given to immigrants or someone un-American resonated with me. The book used details that made the story and the consciousness of the writer pertinent even to this day. He uses suffragettes, labor union organizers and Germans (WWI happened during this story) and we could substitute Mexicans, Muslims, and any other mainstream boogie man of today and the story still makes sense.

What the story really did, for me at least, was it served to excite my mind, my imagination. Good reads tend to do this to me. What happens to me at the end of a good read is that I look at all the books on my shelves that I am yet to read and I'm grateful and excited. I'm excited for the possibilities in these yet unread books. I'm grateful I can read and moreover, grateful that I do read.

Books like Main Street just make reading more books like Main Street a habit or an addiction. You just have to keep reading.

Incidentally, we have a Main Street in my town. I'm critical of my Main Street. I'm critical of my town and especially my state and my country. I found Carol Kennicot refreshing. It is refreshing to read a character so like me in some ways and refreshing even more to meet her in a 100 year old book. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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