“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

We have actually hit 50˚ today because there is no wind. The day is bright and the sky is clear of any clouds. I just got back from my library board meeting so I’m done for the day. My outside clothes are going to be replaced by my inside comfy clothes. I brought home three books from the library, and I have yet to read the morning papers. I’m thinking turning pages might just be my only exercise for the day.

Libraries have always been favorite places for me. I used to go at least once a week when I was a kid. The librarian probably didn’t think I was reading all the books because I returned them so quickly. You’d think librarians of all people would understand how books capture you and how difficult it is to put a good book down. I’d sometimes read a book in one day. I’d even read during class by hiding my book inside a textbook. It had to be a big textbook. The best was always geography with history a close second. Not once did I get caught. I’d turned the text book pages to make it all look real. I was adept at concealment.

When I was in Ghana, I read constantly and swear I read most of the books in the Bolga library. We had no radio, no TV and terrible movies shown once in a while in town at the Hotel d’Bull, the hot spot of Bolga back then. Preparing to teach the next day never took long and neither did correcting so with all this time to fill I read. Trips anywhere took what seemed forever so I learned to read while I was on the bus. It used to make me dizzy and sick when I was younger, but I got used to reading on the road in Ghana. Anytime I had a volunteer stay with me, book swapping was part of the visit. We all carried books. When I was in Accra, I’d go to Legon to the main campus of the University of Ghana. It had a book store. I always spent a good bit of money there. Books were almost as important to us as food and water. I don’t think that’s changed.

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17 Comments on ““Books are a uniquely portable magic.””

  1. Richard Says:

    “Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy / Makes your eyes light up / Your tummy say ‘Howdy’” … Oh yeah … it’s a ‘shoo fly pie’ kinda day here, what with lowering clouds gittin’ all greylicious and wet-lookin’ … won’t be long before the Long Rain begins. One last task before I can come back to Ye Humble Abode and relax for the duration: A meeting with The Tax Lady at noon. Shouldn’t be a big deal, and I can’t see anything being a problem, so we should finish up in plenty of time for me to hie meself back, check for mail, and re-enter The Castle. The ‘Comfy Clothes’ look is definitely ‘In’ …

    I loved libraries when I was aught but an Green Yout’ … There were several quite close to home, but the main Public Library in the Bid’ness Dixtrict was my favorite. I could – and did – spend hours in the stacks and at the reading tables. My checkout list was always maxed out. Sometimes I had to renew books that were on the ‘long-ish’ side ‘cuz it took a while to comprehend all that they contained.

    There’s nothing quite like the welcoming smell of an old book … the dusty-ness of its history wafts up from its yellowing pages, and the shape of the letterforms reveals an earlier time when type was actually set by hand or by Linotype machines rather than imagesetters and computers.

    Yes, computer typesetting produces some beautiful results (it’s what I do, after all), but I’ve been around Linotypes and compositing machines, and there’s nothing about a computer to match the mythical ‘romance’ of the old machines. Their time, unfortunately, has come … and gone.

    Now it’s time to git to preppin’ for the Tax Lady so I can do a quick turnaround and get back before the skies open and begin the predicted five or so days of The Long Rain … Thank you, Ray Bradbury.

    • Richard Says:

      And now for something completely different: Make your very own M C Escher orange in the privacy of your own home …

      • katry Says:

        Richard,
        That looks so very easy. but I suspect I’d foul it up someway. The second one is easy as well, but I’d have to take off the pith.

        The aunties who sold goods along the road in Africa used to peel the top half of an orange with a single edge razor blade they wielded quickly and with great precision.

    • katry Says:

      Richard,
      We finally have a sunny day though it is still a bit chilly. I went only to the library then came home. I had no ambition to do much else. My tax return is so easy to do I do it myself. Everything is organized during the year so all I need is to grab each folder and go from there. I used to get lots of money back but not anymore.

      I love my childhood books. My mother gave them to e when I bought my own house. You are right about the yellow pages. They are also a bit flimsy so turning the pages must be gently done.

      The Book of Kells is just so beautiful, but then its time was over. Now, as you’ve said, computers do all the typesetting of sorts.

      Luckily it isn’t All Summer in a Day!

  2. Hedley Says:

    They sit neatly on shelves, awaiting my attention. My appetite has always exceeded my capacity – I am 80 pages in to Max Hastings a Secret War and absorbed by his description of Bletchley. I concede that I no longer read a newspaper in print but I do love a book. I have emergency group of paperbacks for that do nothing vacation that doesn’t actually happen. There is nothing more pleasurable than a Saturday afternoon nap with the weight of a book on the chest.

    Its around 70, so out I went to walk around the neighborhood that I walk around. I was confronted by the ladies from the accounting firm next door who demanded to know where I have been and summarily announced that they have been walking all winter. They were moving so fast counter clockwise (I always go clockwise) that I wasn’t able to play the old man card

    Bob is releasing another album of standards. Last time I bit, this time I have to lay off.

    We are just 48 hours away from the showdown in Dortmund. I will be watching. I am sure Birgit will be at a choir practice or in a beer hall or listening to Iggy and coming up with some excuse why her team got pounded.

    • Birgit Says:

      Hedley, black-yellow greetings to you.
      A German proverb says Who laughs last laughs best!

      • Hedley Says:

        Birgit, shouldn’t you be at choir practice or something ?

      • Birgit Says:

        Hedley, I’ll sing and practice in the beautiful town of Dortmund tomorrow as every Wednesday. Okay, I admit Dortmund is not really beautiful but it has a great soccer team 🙂

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I always travel with books on my iPad. It is so much easier than the old days when I’d carry a few and hope to trade on the road.

      Newspapers are the best part of my morning. I do watch news on TV but stories are limited because of time. On-line just doesn’t give me the newspaper feel.

      We made it to the low 50’s here. I think Boston was probably much warmer. Gracie and I were out in the back for a while. She was running. I wasn’t. It got a bit too chilly so I came inside.

      Do you have the internal strength to lay off?

      I am hoping that poor Birgit will need consolation!

      • Hedley Says:

        Kat, I freely admit I am Bobcentric…now where did I put the Christmas Bob ?

      • katry Says:

        MDH,
        My hope is you have hidden Christmas Bob in a metal chest so when it is found, future generations will swear it is an unknown language set to music. They will be perplexed.

  3. olof1 Says:

    Libraries have always been favorite places of mine and I always went there as often as I could but I must admit I never would have dared to read a book in class 🙂

    Sometimes books were so exiting I read all night until theybwere finished, no problem when I was young. Today I wouldn’t be able to stay awake during the day if I tried 🙂

    It was in a library I learned that Switzerland has four official languages 🙂 The last one no one mentioned yesterday is called Romansh in English (at least I think so).

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      I figured I looked as if I was studying and you couldn’t see the book inside the text so I was safe.

      Reading al night is something I used to do often. I couldn’t help it. The book had to be finished.

      It is so easy not just to look on-line. I think that is part of the reason kids don’t read anymore.

      Enjoy your evening!

  4. Bob Says:

    I have always loved books but not libraries. Libraries require that you return the book and I hate to give them up. When I was a teenager I kept a book so long that the library threatened to charge me for the book. I sneaked it back into the library and then complained that I had returned it ages ago. They bought my deception. 🙂

    When we downsized last year I had to donate many of my books to GoodWill because of space constraints. Many of those books I never intended to read again. Frankly, I rarely read a book a second time I just like collecting them.

    Now I read ebooks which take up no space, are less expensive and I can highlight passages that are important to me and take notes as well as search the text. When I started reading ebooks I missed physical books but now I can’t remember the last physical book I have read.

    This morning we had a squal line blow through with torrential rain, high winds but no hail nor tornados.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      I used to buy books then I realize I don’t often read them twice so I started using the library more. I always did when I was a kid and now I’m back to the library.

      I donate books to the library and they put bought ones on the shelves and the book club ones in the little libraries by the beach.

      I don’t remember highlighting since college when I was studying. I seldom take notes either. In one book I did make a comment that the author was using the name of a deceased character instead of the live one. My sister who read it after me loved the moment.

      No rain and no snow, not even a wind; it was a pretty day

      • Bob Says:

        Highlighting a passage helps me remember the information. A lot of the books I read are connected to my profession and sometimes I need to find the information.

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        Now I get it. They are basically textbooks. I used to highlight mine as well. I also wrote side notes.


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