I've reached the stage in my pregnancy where the nesting urge is kicking in ... big time. Good thing, too, because all these piles of stuff that have accumulated around our house need to be dealt with before my head explodes from the disorder. Yesterday I took myself to the study, to straighten the piles of books that were threatening to avalanche if I didn't do something about them.
Books, to quote another missionary kid I know, are my oldest and truest friends. There are some I just cannot throw away, no matter how tattered and worn their pages get, or how many times their covers are taped back on. The characters that live within them have never changed through the years. No matter how much I grow and change, Emily Starr still spins her mystical stories in the garret of old New Moon, Meg Murry's stubborn inquisitiveness continues to motivate her in her search for her father, and Digory and Polly always put on the rings when Uncle Andrew tells them to, even when I urge them not to every time.
These books, my old friends, greet me when I open the pages with the elusive, musty scent of old paper. A new book's pages are stiff, shiny, impersonal. But an old book has pages soft and supple as muslin, feathered at the edges by years of turnings and reshelving. The covers have faintly ringed watermarks and faded grease spots, testimonies of all the tea and toast consumed over years of readings.
An E-Reader, no matter how much storage it provides or how convenient it is, can never become a personal friend. The tears I shed over Fred Weasley's death won't stain the pages, and the random crayon scribble by my one year old daughter won't still be inside the back cover when she's five, ten, or fifteen.
Here's my call to you. Buy books. Real books. Books that will become treasured and worn. Books that will age with you even as the characters within them stay young. Or visit the library and get books for free that hundreds of others have read, loved, marked up and coffee ringed. Become part of the faceless community of book lovers, connected by the pages they read and the characters they love.