Twenty days gone in this bright new year, and my resolution not to eat whale meat or smoke Cuban cigars remains firm. As I wouldn’t know where to buy whale meat, let alone cook it, and as I haven’t smoked in 27 years, there is every reason to presume the year will run its course with both resolutions proudly kept.
I have other reasons to believe 2013 could be a good year. Before the first month is over, I have already risen to (for me) dizzy heights in the world of technological challenge. I got myself a Kobo Glo e-reader for Christmas, and a couple of days ago started reading William Manchester’s The Last Lion, the final book in his magnificent trilogy on the life of Winston Churchill. It was co-authored by Paul Reid as Manchester fought his final battle with the grim reaper, but remains another Manchester classic.
I fudge a little when I write “I got myself” an e-reader, making it sound as though I had personally betrayed the world of real books and gone native as it were. The fact is that four of my six sons got together and decided books might be getting a little heavy for old dad to pack along on cruises or read in bed. Time, they decided, to lead him to the gentle glow of a notebook-sized screen that could be pocket-carried and hand-held for reading in waiting rooms for trains, planes, cruise ships and — most important – in doctors’ waiting rooms. No more year-old magazines, if there are any magazines at all at the doctors since it was decided paper pages could be as hazardous to our health as second-hand tobacco smoke.
Senior son Stephen set me up, downloaded my first two books (the other is a novel not yet opened) and told me everything would be easy from that point on. Surprisingly, it has been, although I am not yet convinced it always will be. I do not trust wallet-sized gizmos boasting storage space for a multitude of books. I am suspicious when the gadget marks my place in the book when I click it off and re-opens the book exactly where I left off when I flick it back on. I never had any trouble with bookmarks when reading real books, but having the chore done automatically is a modest improvement.
While the entire process of jamming dozens of books into one small package smacks of witchcraft, I admit to enjoying my late-evening read in bed without having to rest my arms every few minutes. At the same time, I confess to a feeling of guilt every time I walk past Munro’s or cut through Bolen Books as a short cut at Hillside Mall. The feeling that I am betraying old friends is particularly heavy when I’m ensconced in the legislative library, that great oasis of wisdom and reflection in the otherwise bellicose-loud word factory. There, real books wait in patient silence and knowledgeable librarians gently lead searchers to sources. Alas, a few days ago in that tranquil corner of the book world, I was given a bookmark informing me I could now check out ebooks “anytime, anywhere” if I had a legislative-library card and an Internet connection. I have both, and as an honorary life member of the legislature press gallery, have borrowed and read countless books, documents and reports, and sneezed my way through hundreds of pages of old newspaper with that cherished card. It seems like considering sacrilege to even think about reducing long-treasured books of knowledge to five-paragraph bursts on a vest-pocket screen.
I’ll have to think about that. I’ve told my sons I’m enjoying my e-reader, but that I have not yet given up my membership in The Folio Society, from which I buy at least four major tomes a year and enjoy every one because I like their heft — and they make great gifts for others after I’ve read them! And I shall never voluntarily abandon the legislative library.
In other words, I’m adapting to digital, clinging to Gutenberg and enjoying both, but convinced that I shall never be fully weaned from my bookshelf friends — faithful companions since I learned to read at the age of four.
One other “first” has happened in 2013, courtesy another Christmas gift from Stephen of two tickets to a Victoria Royals hockey game. The tickets being free, I ventured to ask my friend Anne if she would like to venture beyond the ramparts of Oak Bay to watch a Saturday ice-fight in the caverns of Victoria.
A first time for me in Save On Foods Memorial Arena; first time Royals’ game; first time at the pre-game buffet. Crowd of 6,000; great energy on and off the ice; impressed with quality of play; unimpressed by bush-league announcements and crashing music often bashing out while play was underway.
The pre-game buffet was excellent in quality and service. An all-round good evening. I intend to do a repeat — if my books and Kobo don’t get in the way.
© Copyright 2013