Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Having Physical Books in Your Hand

I held out for a while.

Being a literature major, I felt it was my duty to fight the good fight to keep physical books on a shelf.

It was some sort of symbol of how well read I was. Guests to my house could look at my hard bound collected works of Hemmingway and think, "Wow, this guy has some culture." Of course, this all relied on them not noticing how many versions of each Harry Potter and Resident Evil book also sat on these shelves.

And then Sal and I moved 4 times within 3 years and I got tired of carrying boxes labeled "Books."

I donated most of our books to Good Will, purchasing the much cheaper Kindle versions from Amazon. And our three overflowing bookshelves were re-purposed for the record player, Sal's nail stuff, and DVDs/Videogames.

What got me thinking of this was the bookmobile passing us on the highway recently. I thought about the joy a lot of kids are going to miss out on.

Climbing onto those brown and tan caravans that never felt stable enough to have 30 hyperactive kids running around them, was a treat.

For a voracious reader like myself, the Bookmobile meant I was going to bring home 3 new books. For the kids who hated reading, it meant they were free from class for an hour.

There was something about the musty smell of the bookmobile that forced a smile like the Joker's laughing gas. My strategy was typically to get one novel (usually a Star Wars book), one drawing book, and one military gear book. (Also used for drawing cool looking military guys)

There was also my personal favorite. The monthly Scholastic order. Every month, the teacher would pass out a small catalog with all of Scholastic's new books and toys. The class would spend Friday afternoon pouring over what books they wanted, running home to get an envelope and fill it with whatever loose change they had available.

I bought every drawing, joke, Star Wars, and Goosebumps book available.

And finally, like a religious holiday, there was the twice a year Scholastic Festival where Scholastic would set up a mobile store in the hallways of the school and each class would get an hour to flip through all of the books.

I remember sniffing new books at my desk, taking in that boxed book smell, rubbing my hands in anticipation for when I would be home and ready to tear through it.

Basically, I'm a nerd, but it was a good thing. I don't know if any of these still exist for kids, but it was so important to my childhood and my love of reading, that I hope they have something.