No, there will be no burning of books. My optimism says we’ve learned that particular lesson.
I am however reading books at a rapid pace. I’m guilty of reading little over the last ten years, and I’m trying to make up for lost time. With the tracking of reading lists at the Vancouver Public Library, I’ve managed 50 books in 15 months between June 2013 and September 2014. I’ve slowed down some, and I’m in the middle of another 10.
In the absence of limitless funds, it’s simply not possible to buy all of the books I want to read. Obviously, a public resource for the public good allows residents to borrow. For that, I have once again a debt to the city’s public library; the debt stretches back to childhood when I discovered brand new worlds through books.
Now, I read mostly from two categories: travel and photography.
I’m reading everything I can get my hands on travel, from guides written in a range of styles by various authors to travel memoirs. I’m learning about voice, vocabulary, and delivery.
I’m devouring books on historical and contemporary photography. Like other human enterprises in the 20th-century, much of the art and business was male-dominated. It’s easy to learn about Atget, Brassaï, and Kertész, but I’m taking my time with the work by Burtynsky, Erwitt, and Salgado. I’ve been reading about Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, and Lee Miller; about Bettina Rheims, Vivien Maier, and Francesca Woodman. Recently, I’ve been turning my attention to Laura Gilpin, Jodi Cobb, and Herlinde Koelbl.
Who Cares About Books? Isn’t Everything Online Now?
Aren’t I already reading travel and photography blogs? I’m reading them all the time, so why would I bother to read something as old-fashioned as books?
I’m not looking for specific details directed to a particular niche in mind. I’m on the lookout for a little different, for something on the old we haven’t seen in a long time. If everything’s been done before, I want to learn what we’ve done.
It’s the same kind of attitude and method I once applied to research. I’ll go back to what it was like in the wayback, thrilled with the wait and anticipation, that nuggets of knowledge and wisdom were going to arrive slowly, flipping from one page to the next.
I’ve entered all sorts of bookstores. I’ll pick up a book, and leaf through the contents quickly. Then it’s another, followed by three, four, and more. Ideas pour over me this way, and I’ll let my mind slowly filter and figure things out later.
With books, I don’t have “easy-tech” distractions. A book does not have an audio bell, signaling new mail, a new post somewhere, or a comment on social media. With a book in my hands, the only distraction is not knowing what’s on the other side of the page.
If I’m reading about Estonia in a book on northern Europe, my mind might choose at an inopportune time to know: “well, what about Latvia? Or Lithuania? Or what about a quick ferry across the Baltic Sea over to Helsinki, Finland?” Or I’ll be staring longingly at a famous photograph, and how various circumstances and a thousand random details converged to that one place and single moment in time.
That’s the kind of internal distraction I’m looking for.
Externally, the book is almost a complete experience. The feel of holding a book in my hands. The subtle touch of grasping a page between my fingers, and the delicate circular motion of turning the page over from one side to the other side of the book.
Slow reading, steady dreaming, a lengthy thoughtful process.
I lean back across the couch, book folded over my chest like a wae paperbound tent. I close my eyes, and I let my mind wander, traveling effortlessly from one desired imaginary place to the next.
I’m grateful to memyselfaneye on Pixabay for the use of their photo with the CC0 Creative Commons License. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.