Rediscovering Old Friends

July 10, 2019 8:28 PM

It’s all Oprah’s fault. And maybe a little of AARP’s fault (of which, for the record,  I am NOT a member even though I’ve been eligible for the past couple of years.) Last month, AARP sent me a complimentary copy of O Magazine, which is run by Oprah. In it, Oprah had her picks for “must read” books of the summer.

I thought several of her picks sounded good, so I ripped out the article. One Saturday afternoon, faced with the prospect of my husband being away for work for most of the next two weeks and armed with a nice amount of Amazon credits accrued on my Amazon credit card, I threw caution to the wind and ordered them all, IN BOOK FORM.

Normally, I order and download books for my Kindle. Or I order them in audio book form and download them to listen to while I’m sewing. Sometimes I get both versions and switch off between the two (Amazon graciously offers audio versions of kindle books you’ve bought at a greatly reduced price). However, for whatever reason that Saturday, I was in the mood read a book. A brand spanking new, hardcover, wonderful smelling book. (If I may digress a moment here — is there any smell equal to that of a new book? Or the feel of being the first person to open a hardcover, gently creasing the binding for the first time, carefully opening to the middle and tenderly separating clumps of pages so as not to break the spine? I think not.)

As I awaited my shipment, I read another article about another “must read” book for the summer in the newspaper. (Yes, I still receive a paper newspaper and I feel the same way about cracking open a fresh new edition as I do about being the first person to open a new book. Dennis knows if he wants to look at the Best Buy ad before I’ve read the Sunday paper, he has to carefully extract it from the crisp neat stack of papers, so none of the lovely new-paper juju is ruined.) Since I still had credits left on my Amazon credit card, I ordered the “must read” from the newspaper article, too. Extra bonus on that one, I got same day delivery.

It’s been a long time since I’ve so eagerly awaited an Amazon shipment. I think the last one was the the plethora of candy I ordered last year, which I am still eating my way though. (You can read about it here). Normally, my Amazon shipments contain thrilling items like cat fountain filters and the latest batch of “smart” light switches Dennis is working on. Pretty soon every light in my entire house will have a name and Alexa will be able to turn it on or off with a voice command. If I can remember the name to use to tell Alexa the command. Which I usually don’t. But it’s still a cool concept.

When that first book came, I tore into the packaging and took out a pristine copy of Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner. Loved it! Read it in two days. It would have been quicker, but I had to ration my reading time so I still got other stuff done. Apart from being a good story, I forgot how much I enjoy holding a physical book in my hands. I was reminded of being a kid again, as I read, book in hand. I was never without a book when I was young. I lived for weekends when I could stay up as late as I wanted reading. I would go to Walden Books on a Saturday, pick out my allotted two books, and eagerly wait for Saturday night, when I would read them in bed, often saying up until the wee hours to finish them. I read my kindle now, but I don’t feel the same connection with the book as when I read the real thing. There’s just something about seeing the cover and the author’s name, feeling the weight of the pages turning and watching my progress as I read that’s more real, more satisfying for me, than reading a digital copy.

That book became my friend when Dennis was out of town.  I carried it with me to bed at night and back downstairs in the morning. I carried it outside to my swing and my deck with the dogs. I took it with me when I went to Culver’s and I read it over meals that I ate alone at home. I thought about the characters, the writing, and how the author was handling the plot while I was doing animal chores and I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I was sad when the book ended. It felt like I lost a friend.

But then, other friends started showing up in their own Amazon boxes. Each was equally as pristine as the first. They each had their own new-book smell, and vibrant covers filled with interesting characters just waiting for me to know them. There was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottleib and City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane and The Guest Book: A Novel by Sarah Blake. I eagerly dove in and I’m still swimming.

Then came the recommendation from a friend for a novel that was a MUST READ. Who can resist a personal recommendation from a fellow reader who has the same taste in books that you do? That’s pure gold. I think you know by now what I did.

Yep. Back on Amazon, the Amazon credits still holding out (thanks in no small to part to Dennis’ smart switch addiction), I ordered Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. While I was there I also ordered another Jennifer Weiner book, The Next Best Thing, since I liked Mrs. Everything so much. I perused my wishlist where I tag books I want to read “someday.” I’m proud to announce that someday has arrived for Natchez Burning by Greg Iles and The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

I’ve put myself on a book-moratorium now, until I finish reading everything. I’m a fast reader, but I do have to accomplish other things, too, like cooking dinner, laundry and trying to get my own book published. Besides, I have to let the Amazon credit card credits accrue a bit now, to make up for what I used. It shouldn’t take long, though. Over dinner tonight, Dennis was telling me about the next configuration of smart switches we need to put in. We all need a hobby.


9:21 PM