What We Lose If We Lose the Printed Book

I imagine this blog as a plea for the slow, the silent and the weight of a book in your hands. As many proclaim the triumph of ready access and portable digital books over the thumb-able, it’s The Long Room, Trinity College Library, Dublin, Irelandimportant to reflect on what we’re rushing to give up.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the first time you walked into a library.  You entered a kingdom. The shelves of neat rows of books architectural, and monumental.

The sheer massing of books was beyond your ability to take in–like an infinite number of windows, with the shades half drawn. You walked among the shelves like navigating skyscrapers.  Wandering through natural history’s neighborhood, you reached poetry. The vast downtown of fiction took up blocks and blocks. They were grouped with their like-minded fellows, and one could imagine that they whispered to each other when the lights were off. How could they not, heads touching, intimately rubbing up against each other. And as you eased one out, the neighbors collapsed, sensing the loss of their comrade.  Continue reading

Another Diary of a Young Girl

Just when we’d had our fill of year-end top ten lists, Global Language Monitor caught my eye. GLM analyzes and catalogs the latest trends in word usage and language’s impact on culture. Their annual Survey of Global English compiles the most frequently used words, phrases and names each year. Why is it that reading words like apocalypse, phobes, memes and hashtags makes our obsessions seem so remote and nearly quaint, just a few days into the new year?

Malala Yousufzai Maybe these words have just worn out their welcome by showing up a few too many times, as Jon Stewart blithely underscores with his “redundant pundit” video clips.

But some of the ubiquitous names of 2012 live on, tugging at us with their moral imperative. Newtown and Malala Yousufzai were the most frequently appearing. As most readers know, Malala is the 15-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls’ right to be educated who was shot in the head by Taliban last October 9 on her schoolbus, along with two other girls. Her crime? Continue reading