This past week I had the opportunity to travel with my daughter who will soon to be graduating from the University of Wisconsin to visit Portland’s National College of Natural Medicine, NCNM. It’s exciting for me to visit new places, although I’ve been to Portland before, especially when I’m traveling as a means to broaden my view of the world.
The whole idea of my daughter choosing an alternative way to bring health to those she wishes to engage as patients in a healthcare system that currently treats disease, while doing little to promote preventive care, was mind opening on its own. Seeing her move from a state of anxiety over the traditional medical school process to a state of hope and excitement over the concepts behind Classical Chinese medicine, Naturopathy—a modality that aims to treat the causes of disease while evaluating and treating the whole person--as well as incorporating various types body work, was thrilling to see. She, for lack of a better description, literally came alive with energy at the thought that this kind of practice could become her reality.
I’ve got nothing against tradition or the practice of it when it makes sense and is, upon weighing the options, the most helpful, comforting or otherwise the best choice.
I love tradition when it comes to books too.
The scent of books. The feel of old, quality paper. The fact that the author had to take great pride in the lovely presentation of her work. Not to mention one of my secret love, collecting those richly colored, flamboyantly painted, romance covers from the 1980’s. Wow, that just makes me feel good.
Enter, POWELL’S BOOKS in Portland. Powell’s headquarters, Powell’s City of Books is said to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world.
My daughter and I spent the better part of a day in the original store in Portland (there are others in the chain in Portland) and were swept away in the sheer overwhelming allure of books. The scents, the fact that new and old are on the same shelf for perusing and for sale. The energy of the place is fantastic. Everyone in there loves books and by extension, learning. A heady and wonderful thing that.
The mythology section is where I could have spent days, had we had more time. I thumbed, opened, and even purchased a few books there. I was limited by weight. Literal weight, more than cost. I was traveling and didn’t have the space or weight for more than the three paperbacks I purchased.
When I got home I posted this photo on FB of Powell’s Book Store. I got numerous comments, among them were a few about paper books being THE mode for reading; superior to reading on a Kindle, Nook, i-Pad, or any of the other readers available. As an avid lover of books, for the first time this offended me.
I read most often on my i-Pad using the Kindle app. I can carry more than 1000 books at any time on my i-Pad or my Kindle; I have an older Nook that I won in a contest and I don’t know how many books I can store, carry and read on that, but I’m guessing it’s more than 500. With a reader I can increase the font when my eyes get tired. I can download almost any book almost anytime and have it automatically delivered to me. I can bold, underline and take notes. I can also un-bold, un-underline and get rid of my notes.
I can hold and read a wonderful box set of twelve Novellas, each with their own rich covers, without hurting my wrists or having to read at a table because the volume is too big, too unwieldy, nor do I have to worry about the binding breaking as I try to read those middle pages.
So, as much as I love reading Longfellow in hardcover from a period closer to my parents’ and grandparents’ time than my own, I love reading contemporary fiction on my reader. Less waste. All the benefits of technology which enhances my note-taking and scholarship. The pages never get smeared or torn. I don’t have to store or give away the 3-4 paperbacks I read per week.
I get to enjoy twelve really great stories for .99, something no paperback can do unless it’s old and worn and discounted, years after it’s published, in an effort to get it off the brick and mortar bookstore shelves because they no longer have room to store it. Tradition can be wonderful and nostalgic and heartwarming. It can also be comfortable because of its familiarity. All good things.
Here’s a story my grandmother used to tell me about her first try at family Christmas dinner as a young bride: She wanted to make ham the traditional way her grandmother did when she was a little girl. Grandma brought out the ham with both ends cut off and put it on the table. Her grandmother asked why she cut the ends off. My grandma said, “because you always cut the ends off.” Her grandmother replied, “That’s because my pan was always too small for the ham.” My grandma had a big enough pan. She never had to cut the ends off again.
Embracing new and alternative vehicles for enjoying what we love can enhance our lives as well. It’s not an either or, a one is better than the other, it’s a mind-shift that says there is room for both, and each makes life better. Each offers something the other cannot.
If you haven’t embraced e-books and all they have to offer, you have a real treat coming when you do. Being spoiled by choice and affordability is a wonderful thing. I couldn’t enjoy all the box-sets I currently enjoy or the really phenomenal new-to-me-authors I have found without embracing indie authors and e-books.
Here's to being thankful for new and old, and taking advantage of both. Happy Reading, however you chose to read, and Happy Thanksgiving!