Tag Archive: reading

A surprisingly massive horde of shoppers descended on my local Borders store yesterday, after the mortally wounded chain announced the start of its close-out sale. Everything must go, and judging by the turnout, go it will. Many shoppers were expressing to the harried clerks how sorry they were that the store was closing … it made me wonder how long it had been since these patrons had last had shopped there, possibly preventing the current state of affairs. It made me wonder if I, too, should have made an effort to come in more often – but that was a fleeting, nonsensical thought. Read on, and I’ll tell you why.

In case you live under a rock, the current state is that the Borders book store chain is closing its doors.

“It’s not pining, it’s passed on! This [bookstore] is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late [bookstore]! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies! It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-[bookstore]!”

My apologies to Monty Python, and my condolences to Borders lovers everywhere.

I (Unwittingly) Helped to Close Borders

I can tell you quite candidly that I am one of “those people” who loved having a Borders around (yes, I am a card-carrying Borders Rewards member) but rarely set foot inside it. Why?  After all, I read a lot.  I thrive on having books all around me.  And Borders has so many lovely amenities and some marvelous merchandise.

It all comes down to practicality: time and money.  I might meet a friend at Borders about once a year for coffee and browsing, I’d always stop there pre-Christmas, and I would check out a special sale or author’s book signing now and then.  But my time is so limited that most of my book shopping is done online.  I order, and my book arrives in two days without me having to spend time and money to go get it. And guess what?  I actually pay LESS for that privilege. The fact is that whenever I compare pricing in brick-and-mortar stores and online sellers, I can always find books for less online.  Don’t even get me started on the merits of my Kindle.

Now listen carefully: these are the musings of a traditionalist reader who’d like nothing better than to sit each morning (or at least once a week) in a coffee shop attached to a book store, then peruse the shelves, chat with clerks about recommendations, and purchase precious volumes from its shelves. I even dreamt (and often do still) of owning an eclectic book-store/sweets-and-coffee-shoppe in my pseudo-retirement years *sigh*. But I’ll tell you, I don’t know many people in my circle of RL or cyber friends in a far-flung radius who have either the time or the money to partake of such luxuries. We’re all working harder, not smarter, it seems, and quick downloads, borrowing from the library where possible, and cheap paperback purchases with two-day delivery to the front door are a sign of these times.

But I am not discouraged in the least. It’s all part of the fuzzy plan, and the pendulum keeps swinging.

A Brief History of Bookworm Evolution

Unquestionably, I count myself among the bookworms of the universe. Yet I am feeling ambivalent about the whole Borders going-under thing. Here’s why: if you take the long view, perhaps it’s just a matter of bookworm evolution.

The advent of books, with the invention and proliferation of the printing press, turned reading from a pastime of wealthy and pious snobs into the edification and entertainment of the masses. Availability of books shaped literature itself. Supply and demand, demand and fulfillment. This model evolved and grew for over five hundred years (yeah, well, pre-technology evolution is languorous).

Then came innovations like audio books and e-books and e-readers and brain-embeddable microchips with the entire Library of Congress on them. OK, I made up that last one, but really, how far-fetched is it?

Now people well-versed in techno-gadgets can absorb the same best-sellers as those who still belong to a book-of-the-month-club.  Geeks on the go can order their cyber-versions of books and begin reading instantaneously. Entire web communities have cropped up to discuss and disseminate the latest literature, which now includes genres our parents never could have imagined in their wildest dreams (or nightmares). Bookworms flourish! Only now they do so in cyberspace more often than under the fluorescents of the bookstore.

Is this loss of localized community sad? Certainly. But look at the big picture: Reading is alive and well. Literature flourishes and evolves in infinite new ways.  Readers flourish and multiply. It’s a brave new world!

Betting on Darwin

It’s sad that the dinosaurs are gone too. But evolution has its reasons and purposes. Some of the old must make way for the new. I guess I’m ready to go with the flow and see what happens next. It’s a dynamic universe, and its myriad mutations and adaptations result in the innovative strengths of survivors.

Books and movies, movies and books … and then there’s writing , of course, and painting, and traveling, and …

Oh, there are so many things one wants to do, but from day to day what one actually does is work,  take out the trash, do laundry, buy groceries, take the car in for service, and once in a while enjoy a fun evening with friends.  Yikes, is my life really that tedious?

Having published my first movie review book (get ready for another plug — TA DA!  A Book Full of Movies You May Not Have Seen), I am becoming more active in the online literary community Goodreads.  It’s an awesome social networking site for readers and authors alike.  Anyway, as I fill my virtual bookshelves with the books I’ve read (dutifully voting one to five stars for how much I enjoyed reading each) and the books I want to read, I’ve started to realize just how many books are out there that I still need to sink my teeth into. For crying out loud, I haven’t even read all the books by just my short list of favorite authors, and there are so many more that get recommended every day, and books stare like mouthwatering candy from the shelves at bookstores and the pages of e-newsletters bearing the missive “This year’s best books!”  And then there are the great books I’d love to re-read.  I can’t bear it!  There’s just not enough time.

On top of this angst, I started having the nagging feeling that I was overlooking some favorite books.  So I perused the many bookshelves in the house (not the living room bookshelves, mind you; those were taken hostage several years ago by the burgeoning movie collection and, thus, are off limits to all but the most venerable display-quality volumes, or books having to do with movies, naturally), and I found books that I had actually forgotten I had *gasp*.  In fact, I had listed some of these in Goodreads on my “to-read” shelf and even added them to my wish list and actually looked to see if anyone had them to swap (Ooh!  The Goodreads book swap program is amazing!  People list the books they no longer want, and if you want one, you just pay for shipping — the shipper prints a postage-paid label courtesy of Goodreads — and, in a few days, its yours … incredible and wonderful!  I’ve shipped a couple of books already, and its super-duper-easy!), and when I discovered them on my bookshelves … well, I was mortified.  And then *swoon* I found two books on my shelves twice, meaning that I had not only forgotten I had them but had purchased another copy and abandoned the first for lost … forever.

My shame was deep and complete.  I felt like a mother who had abandoned her children to run off with a rodeo cowboy.

Shaking off my remorse and vowing to be a better mother and dust more often, I realized that this and many other regrets of modern life are simply due to the fact that there is just not enough time, darn it!  Since this insight came due to my current immersion in books and the lack of time to read them, I was reminded of my favorite Twilight Zone episode of all time (and I am a big TZ fan who, yes, owns the entire original series), “Time Enough at Last.”  Burgess Meredith plays a bank employee who adores reading and prefers books to people.  When he hides in the vault one day to finish his lunchtime reading, a catastrophe happens, and he finds himself alone — and surrounded by books from the nearby demolished library.  He’s in heaven!  Well, until the ironic twist at the end for which the TZ series is famous.

And it’s in this “Be careful what you wish for” irony that I find solace at present from my predicament of not having the time I want to read, watch movies, write, paint, travel, and hang out with friends.  After all, the reasons for having that time on one’s hands might be less than pleasant.  So, I’ll just keep eking out my morsels of precious hourglass sand, more grateful to have them becasue they are so rare.

Mood:  grateful and inspired

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