Sunday, December 20, 2009

Digital Books Can't Do This:

Digital books are all the rage this holiday season, from the Sony Reader to Barnes & Noble's Nook - they are THE hot item for book lovers. I also have a digital reader that my husband scoured Lubbock for last year. He woke up every morning, calling Target to catch their next shipment of Readers that had been sold out for weeks and weeks. I love my Reader. It is slim and light weight and currently has over 300 titles in it. I can put it in my purse and read while waiting in the long check out lines at the grocery story, or while getting my oil changed.

However, that does not mean that I have given up paper books. I love the feel of the pages, the weight of a big book in my hands, and yes....even the smell of them is enjoyable. The reason I know that paper books will never be completely obsolete is because of the pictures I'm sharing with you below. It's been four years since my grandfather, Joe Mitchell passed away after battling cancer. Four years later, I still think about him every single day. The holidays make it doubly hard to not think about him. For Christmas it became a sort of tradition after I was in college to buy him books. You couldn't tell by looking at the big, burly man that he loved to read, but he did -especially Westerns and I would buy him three or four every year. When he passed, I didn't know what I wanted to take of his to remember him by. My mother took his rough flannel shirts that would scour my cheek when I would give him a hug, and my sisters each took things that meant something to them, but I took one book. One. It was the last Western that I bought him, and I don't know why I only took that book, because he had a huge collection by the time he died. I found out two days ago why I did pick that lone, solitary book.

I was pulling out books from my cabinet, in a vain attempt to organize my chaotic shelves and stumbled across that ONE book. Grief is a funny thing. It ebbs and flows like the tide and come crashing down on you like a tsunami. I sat there, with that book in my hand, piles of books and papers around me and began thumbing through the pages. I hadn't even opened his book until that moment. Inside, there was nothing that would matter to the casual observer that happened to pick it up in a used bookstore, but to me, those pages contained my Pawpaw. I found coffee stains, and greasy smears from his fingers and it brought me right back to his living room and I could see him laid back in his recliner, book propped up on his belly, probably snacking on Spanish peanuts and having him a cup o' joe while reading into the wee hours of the night. I stuck my nose deep into the pages and I could SMELL my grandparent's home. A smell that can't be described and can never be duplicated. I sat there for a long time, crying like a baby (much like I'm crying now as I type this) and it dawned on me the power that paper books can have. No digital book can imprint memory like a paper book can. How lucky am I that I have a tiny piece of my Pawpaw to keep on my shelf and visit whenever I feel the urge?
It doesn't look like much. It isn't even a hardback book and probably only cost me ten bucks whenever I bought it for him, but to me, it's priceless.
His coffee stains made me laugh out loud, then cry like a little girl. I guess my klutziness isn't all my own, eh, Joe?

1 comment:

  1. Wow. What a touching book. And you described every single reason why I'm a book purist.