The library is my second favourite place in the world, after my recliner.
There’s a sanctity about libraries, not to mention an unlimited cache of reading material. If I could smoke cigars and sip single malt amongst the shelves I suspect my recliner would gather a bit of dust, to be honest.
I have a ritual where I take a tote bag full of borrowed John Grisham, James Patterson and Clive Cussler hardcovers to work and stop in at my local library on the way home, when the younger school kids have gone and it’s just the die-hard undergraduates buried under stacks of textbooks. I dump my old load of books in the chute and head for the shelves to cultivate a new batch.
About an hour later I’ll walk out with five well-thumbed novels, four of which I’ll eventually read. There’s invariably one stinker in the bunch that will be abandoned after 20 pages or so.
There’s a cathartic feeling when you finish a novel, something innately pleasurable in closing the tome, its fusty pages conquered. Like arriving home after a long journey.
My beloved wife is no fan of the book stacks next to our bed, though, and has threatened to throw them in the fire on more than one occasion. She’s a bit of a minimalist.
No surprise, then, when dear Deirdre presented me with a kindle this morning.
I tried to feign joy, but she saw through it. “You’ll have to trust me,” she said.
There was already a book loaded on the device; Ken Follett’s Code to Zero, which I’ve read, but will gladly revisit. I set the thing to charge and left for work, fake-beaming to my wife in anticipation of coming home to stare at a smaller, dimly lit version of the same screen I used at work all day.
“It all seems terribly… inorganic,” I moaned to one of my clients, Peter Archer, during our 10am review meeting. “What if I drop the thing on my face and break my nose, or it falls into the bath?”
“Well old bean,” said Peter, “I suspect a book would fare rather poorly in both those scenarios as well.”
He was right, of course. In a practical sense, the device is superior. Paying for books is not ideal, but if I’m to be honest I do fancy not having to wait a year for the new releases to filter down to the public library domain. I’m also told you can adjust the level of illumination on the kindle, which means I can still read after Deirdre has put down whatever self-improvement nonsense she’s reading and gone to sleep.
I’ll miss the library, though. It’s quiet and no one bothers me there.
Perhaps I can still visit. I’ll take my kindle and do some reading.