“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Here I am the sloth behind closed windows and doors luxuriating in the air conditioning. When I went to get the papers, I gasped at the heat. It is already 82˚ and will get hotter. I know to some of you 82˚ is a cold spell but around here 82˚ is pretty darn hot.

Toward eleven last night I could have been a traveler in a foreign country. My neighbor was sitting on his deck speaking Portuguese on his phone. The air was filled with the aroma of wood burning. From the house behind me music blared. The air was hot and humid. I remembered a night when all those pieces were part of my journey.

Every time I traveled I brought books, long books which would take some time to read. When I stayed in a hostel, I would trade for other books. If I stayed in a hotel, I looked for and found the English language book store where I’d load up again with books. In Ghana, my town had a library, and I had a book locker from the Peace Corps so I never ran out of something to read. Now I have an iPad, the best friend of any traveler. Before I leave for any trip, I fill the Kindle app with books. I go through free books and add some of those. If need be, I use wifi to add more. It is book paradise.

My mother used to put small pieces of papers around two of her fingers, and she’d put both those fingers on the table top near the edge. She’d first lift up one finger a bit behind her shoulder and say, “Good-bye, Jack.” When the finger came back down, Jack, the piece of paper, was gone. She’d do the same with the other finger but say, “Goodbye, Jill,” and Jill was gone. We’d look on the floor under the table, on her lap and behind her, any place where Jack and Jill could hide. We never found them so my mother said she’d bring them back. She moved her finger up behind her shoulder and said, “Come back, Jack,” and he did. Then my mother did the same with her other finger but said, “Come back, Jill, ” and she did. Clearly my mother was a magician.

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

  1. Bob Cohen Says:

    Hi Kat,

    I think that the invention of the printing press was the most important invention of all time. Without it nothing in our modern world could exist. Cheap and plentiful books allow us to carry small parts of all of man’s knowledge in you hand. All the iPod does is allow us to carry huge quanties of them in a small and easy to read format. The only drawback is that physical books don’t require electricity. 🙂 Nothing in life is free. 🙂

    I have been an avid reader since the third grade. I quickly moved up to adult books when I had the flu in the fourth or fifth grade and was bedridden for ten days and read Leon Uris’s book Exodus. I soon discovered paperback books and soon had a large collection of books.

    I must be a collector at heart because I hate to let go of any book. Libraries don’t interest me because I want to keep every book I read regardless if I ever look at the book again. Since the advent of the internet I probably don’t need all those books to look something up because Google will find it faster. 🙂

    Some rainstorms are around with expected high temperatures in the upper 90s. BTW this has been the first year since 2012 that we have not had a day of 100 degrees in June or July. That’s only happened seven times in the last 150 years of collecting weather data here. Otherwise, it becomes fodder for climate change deniers. 🙁

  2. katry Says:

    Hi Bob,
    I take having electricity for granted, even when I travel. My house in Bolga had electricity though it would go out on occasion. On my second trip back to Ghana in 2012 the entire country lost electricity. If it had continued for too long, I’d would have had to find a physical book.

    I have loved books since I was a toddler. My mother read to me all the time, and that turn into my love for books. Both my parents were readers so that helped as well. I read all the classics when I was a kid.

    Some books I save but most I pass around. I like sharing books. I even have a little library in front of my house. The only ones I’ve kept have been first editions of favorite authors and also those signed.

    We may have a thunder shower tonight. It would be a wonderful way to end the day!

  3. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I love books. I don’t love having to move them or find a place to keep them after they’ve exceeded the shelf space available for them. But I do love reading so I stopped buying hardcovers and went to paperbacks. When I finished with them, I’d leave them wherever I was or I’d take them to work and leave them in the bookcase by the cafeteria door. Most of what was left there were bodice rippers and old magazines so whatever I left there was gone by the time I’d gotten my coffee and come back out.
    I’ve had a Kindle since almost the beginning. I have several now because newer is smaller and lighter and better. 😉 It’s been a long time since I’ve read an actual book made of paper and cloth. Even my cookbooks are on a device.

    It’s hot here. I gave up and turned on the AC last night. I don’t want to go out but I have to go to the pharmacy. Ugh.

    Enjoy the day. Stay cool.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn
      After writing about books, I decided it was time to check my little library and put in the books I’ve been saving. There were ants eating something, but I had no idea what it was. I took out all the books and cleaned both shelves. I put the books in order on each shelf and removed a couple of books to make room for the new ones I was adding. I know people are using it as many of the books came from other people. I used to pass my books to my mother who would read them then pass them to my sister. I also donate some to the library. Even after all that. though, I have books all over the house.

      I write Coffee when I’m away so I need the iPad. I just fill up the Kindle app on it. I used to buy so many books, new ones just out by my favorite authors. Now I do buy one or two every now and then.

      My AC is blasting. All of us are comfortable.

      Enjoy your evening!

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