Yesterday my book group met at our little local library. We'd read the #5 rated book on Amazon this past month: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Along with discussing the book itself and its impact on us, or lack of impact for some, we shared stories of our childhood with books. What was the first book you remember reading and how did it affect you? Mine was Heidi. It changed me by teaching me about a faraway land so different than the inner city where I lived. Heidi's story was absolutely exotic to me. I wondered, "Where do you get goat cheese to eat?" My mother did not know.
Then came the Little House books, and I lost myself in the prairie life and the woods, Pa playing fiddle at night, sleeping in a loft. Wow, families lived like that? My world continued to grow. I was learning different cultures and geography. More significant, my love of learning was blooming.
We talked yesterday about why we all were such avid readers when today this is not the norm for most children. The answer is apparent, of course: More alluring media. TV, DVDs, video games, SmartPhones and all that glitter. I hate sounding like an old lady, and I won't tell about walking to school in 4 feet of snow, but are reading and good books dying?
When you consider the publishing crisis, giving way to ebooks, electronic readers, book downloads to your cell phone, what will become of the beloved hardbacks you can hold in your hands and display proudly on your bookshelves? One thought is that less paper books will be published. Already this has happened. The ones that do go to print must therefore be worthy. And they'll cost more.
I see a time coming when we go back a little ways, where "real," good books are not in supply as they are now, where one buys selectively that beautiful volume for his/her shelf, and libraries thrive because they supply the rest of what we need and desire. Sort of like when I was a kid. Would that be so bad?
By the way, the Guernsy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a good book. I'm not sure I want to make a Potato Peel Pie, though if times get too bad, that might be an option.