The straw dog debate of pixel vs. paper

“I love the feel and weight and smell of books.”

“Save trees. Read ebooks.”

“Philistine!”

“Luddite!”

Finally, in desperation, I shout back at those annoying voices in my head, Can’t we all just get along?!?

And we can, because as you will discover once you own an ereader, too– it’s not a battle between ways of reading, it’s not an either/or, but a brand new “AND” way to read books. A way to read books that allows you to adjust the font to the most comfortable size, that makes an entire library lightweight and easy to take with you, a way of reading where nobody knows whether you’re reading classic or erotica, literature or genre, nobody can judge you by the cover of your book, just for starters.

Which brings me back to the disassembling and new creation of personal library. Paperbacks and hardcovers have gone to Half-Price Books and charities by the boxful. I still have 6 or 8 bookshelves, mind you. And some boxes of books. But as many as I still have, I did have three or four times as many. Today I brought out a box of “keepers” and realized out of 30 or 40, only 4 were true keepers, and those only until I can replace them with something more worth keeping.

One of those books is a battered, five-times read paperback, My Name Is Asher Lev. And in my ongoing effort to build a personal library that truly represents what I love and/or find fascinating (or need for research purposes) rather than every book I’ve ever purchased in my life, I am going to upgrade this paperback to a hardcover, once I find one.

I hadn’t added it to my goodreads library until today. This is what I said about it:

This book grabbed me by the throat with the first sentence, the first two paragraphs:

Painting by Chaim Potok

“My name is Asher Lev, the Asher Lev, about whom you have read in newspapers and magazines, about whom you talk so much at your dinner affairs and cocktail parties, the notorious and legendary Lev of the Brooklyn Crucifixion.

I am an observant Jew. Yes, of course Jews do not paint crucifixions. As a matter of fact, observant Jews do not paint at all–in theway that I am painting. So strong words are being written and spoken about me, myths are being generated: I am a traitor, an aspostate, a self-hater, an inflicter of shame upon my family, my friends, my people; also, I am a mocker of ideas sacred to Christians, a blasphemous manipulator of modes and forms revered by Gentiles for two thousand years.”

As a writer who comes from a deeply religious family, I identified with the issues in Asher Lev’s life, though his struggles were more profound than mine. How many times did I find myself approaching an idea, a scene, an action, even a word, with the voice in my mind, “What is he going to say about this?” or “Wait until she reads this part!” and the 9-year-old girl cringed and the adult writer wrote it anyway. So yes, I identified so totally with the struggles, even as I was fascinated by the world and issues that were alien to me.

I was introduced to Chaim Potok by The Chosen, another favorite. But My Name is Asher Lev touched me in a deeper way.

And now, to find that hardcover.

P.S. It’s not too late to enter and win my contest for a free book of your choice from Book Depository!

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5 Comments

Filed under Books, Building My Library, ebooks, Uncategorized, Writing

5 responses to “The straw dog debate of pixel vs. paper

  1. denise

    I was freecycling some books the other day and realized it might be time for me to let go of books I’ve had forever, especially college text books from my major, and those teen romances from the 80’s–who’s going to read them? I love to keep classics–helped my son find something to read for a high school English project–but it’s time for me to let go of a lot of the others. Maybe even the set of encyclopedias.

    I read mostly current women’s fiction and have both “real” books and ebooks (kindle), so I understand the argument, but I love to go back and forth between the two.

    I hope I don’t bore you with my replies to your blog.

    • Never! I love your replies. I have a set of encyclopedias (World Book, early 80s) that is red leatherette with gold lettering. I keep those because I like the way they look on the shelf. So I will keep books just because they’re pretty. 🙂

      I keep whittling down my books. Those books in that box are now in the back of my car and they are GOING GOING GONE. And I have more boxes to sort through. Unloading these things feels almost like losing weight!

      • denise

        I love the insides of my encyclopedias (they’re just hunter green with gold and the ones my parents started for us in the 70’s) because they have cool pages on some subjects where there are transparencies that have layers for things like trees, birds, anatomy, etc…I wish I had kept an older set Dad bought second-hand from the 20’s; the artwork would have been worth framing…I think I will definitely get rid of the old paperbacks. I’ve had to move them a few times recently and maybe I’m being told it’s time to be “out with the old” .
        I have some old books that were my mom’s from the 50’s and early 60’s–I will hold onto them. I have her original Peyton Place–seems so mild compared to what one can read now. lol.

        I’ve heard the cathartic effects of purging old can lead to real weight loss, too. But, the emotional weight loss is wonderful, too.

      • Hunter green! My favorite color. Yes, I love those transparencies! So very cool.

        I bought an antique map of England that was a page out of an old 19th Century encyclopedia and I did frame it!

  2. Book clubs are SO MUCH FUN! I started one this smumer and we have such a blast when we meet. We always talk about the book about half the time and other stuff the rest – it’s so nice to have a night with girlfriends! 🙂 Can’t wait to see what other books you read!

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