When I was pregnant, I imagined a baby who’d grow into a reader like me. So as my belly swelled, I read my favorite books aloud to him. I’ll read to my baby every night, I thought. He will grow surrounded by books, and we will love them together.
I bought him lots of books from The Book Barn in Latham, my favorite used book store, where it didn’t cost me a mortgage payment to create a child’s library. And I did read to him every night, until it became apparent he wasn’t enjoying it at all. He ripped up lots of books, my Boo. He mangled them. Jonah only wanted books if they played music, or had buttons to press and make sounds. The rest of his library sat untouched. Some of the books I gave to Jonah’s classrooms, and some to other kids. Some I still have, here in the house. They have his bite marks; some are torn. I love them all.
A few weeks ago I couldn’t sleep so I got out of bed at 2am and ordered 7 or 8 books on www.amazon.com. (When it is not 2am, I prefer to get my new books from The Book House, an independently owned local book store). So when I speak of these books I mean actual books, you understand. Mockingbird and Out of My Mind were the first two I read, and both were amazing; remarkable. Now I’m starting Wonder. I am reading books again. I read in cycles. For months I’d stopped, reading only newspapers, and now again I am voracious for books.
I like to hold print objects in my hands. Books, magazines, newspapers. There are the many unique papery smells, of course…musty & woody, shiny-new & linen-clean – and that same uniqueness in the feel of the pages - recycled-rough, factory smooth, stained with coffee, crisp or yellow-thin…but there is also the added element of holding. Print does not disappear at the touch of a button. You don’t turn it off. It is unsettling to me that print media is stored in cyberspace, an imaginary land where there is no semblance of anything sensory at all. Hell, there isn’t even the pretense of it. You hold a never-altering device, missing all these wonderful sights, smells, feelings. I just won’t do it.
This blog is nowhere to be found in print, and that irony is not lost on me.
There are still people who don’t “get” (or perhaps have never even stopped to consider) the significance of the names Kindle and Kindle Fire. They may as well have called the damned thing the Fahrenheit 451. I do not have one and don’t plan to get one. In fact I’m seriously considering a backwards move in the land of technology. No cell phone, then no cable. I’ll buy a Victrola and play 78s all day while reading in my rocking chair. I’ll hold a book to my chest and hug it close, by my fireplace, glancing up to walls full of volumes, of albums, of plants. I’ll be on 10 acres of woods, smack in the middle in a small cabin. Animals everywhere. The deer will eat out of my hands. Okay, maybe not all those things. But I shall have my books.
Boo never wanted bound pieces of paper that did nothing and meant nothing to him. The most colorful, amazing illustrations couldn’t capture his attention. I brought him to the library reading room toddler times. As the other tots gathered ’round, criss cross applesauce, for The Cat in The Hat, Jonah ran up and down the long aisles of books, touching their spines, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap, screeching every so often. I was an alien suddenly, thrust onto Jonah’s planet in a rocket I didn’t ask to get on and didn’t know how to steer.
We didn’t try the reading room toddler times again.
“Back then” (2004 or so) they didn’t have autism-toddler-time around here, which would have maybe been cool –to climb into a leaky boat with other parents who feel just like me and whose kids also want to tap-tap-tap on the books. To not feel so scared and alone.
I feel scared and alone again. I feel tired. The tired of a waning moon.
Yet Andy drove Jonah up today and we had a good visit; Boo was lovey, laughing, and demanding all at once. Two baths, two attempts at driving to train (neither successful), many kisses. Jonah’s laughter at jokes of which he is both author and audience. It was a good day.