Posted by: guinness222 | August 20, 2010

Literacy is dying!!

     This morning as I was having my second cup of coffee and getting ready to head up to “the Pit” t0 set up, no strike that, REVIEW my things to do today list my wife called down from her office “Hey, did you know Barnes & Noble is up for sale?”

     I consider our local Barnes and Noble Booksellers Store as sacred as our Church. It is the last bastion of literacy in an otherwise “arid wasteland” known as a beach community, not to mention in the old “Bible Belt” and the Southeastern part of  the United States. (Grits will rot your brain, I’ve seen it happen! How can corn kernels soaked in LYE do anything but rot your brain? DUH!!)

       Anyway, I have had a serious relationship with only two things in my lifetime, my lovely wife of 44 years, and books, (and the books and I have actually been in a relationship for almost 60 years so far).

      This blog is about the books relationship. Even before my own bicycle or any other toy I remember my most prize possession being my very own Boston Public Library Card as about age eight or nine years old, I got it myself, went to the local branch and walked up to the big desk, looked at the stern looking old lady with the pencil stuck in her hair and asked for a Library Card.

         Books have been an escape, a dream, a business resource, an educational tool, and in other words just about the major support mechanism of my life. Aside from school books, (ok for learning, but no dream, character, panache if you know what I mean,….just “stuff you gotta know to pass the test”.)

        But now just the thought of going to my book store to spend an hour perusing the shelves, reading the inside dustjacket covers, thumbing through the pages, leaning back against the shelf, sitting on the floor in the aisle and “testing” a book,….well in a while the door could be locked, the windows covered with that plain brown paper, and a sign neatly preprinted saying “Thank you for your business over the past years” could be  greeting me, instead of the warm welcoming smell of ink, paper, and even the damn “designer coffee” at $3.00 a cup from their coffee shop.

         Being a Boston boy I had the great fortune of having a ton of book stores to chose from, Lauriets, B.Dalton, and many other smaller independent stores, not counting the College book stores and what I consider one of the finest Public Library systems in the world, The Boston Public Library.

       As a small child my mother was sickly, (she had polio just after having me, and then a number of years of physiotherapy, then in the fifties got severe Gall bladder problems and a couple of bad pregnancies so my Dad would try and give her some much needed rest by taking my little sister and I out somewhere. He got involved in some contest or something and we used to spend almost everyone of his days off and Sundays at the big old main branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL) where he spent time researching answers writing things, etc. and letting my little sister and I roam the place, in search of adventure. It put me on a path which to this day I would never leave, “Learn everything you can about everything there is, and in the process you will come to learn yourself”. That is my driving philosophy of life, and I will die only when I stop learning and I can’t ever really foresee that occurring. (I understand the “warrantee” on the old bod may run out, and all the advancements in the world won’t alter that, but trust me I’ll probably be checking out articles on cremation and “funky” ways to hang around on the mantle afterwards as I slide into the next adventure. Is there a hereafter? Well I firmly believe there is, is it all judgmental and spooky, and all that “fire and brimstone” shit,….I chose to think not, but unfortunately I won’t be able to blog you about my actual findings,…ah well such is life! 🙂

        But books are knowledge, knowledge is wisdom, and wisdom is the ultimate “power” in life. I got here naked, I’m leaving naked, but in the interim I can think of nothing more rewarding to me than wisdom.

       Wisdom is learned, not simply acquired. If you don’t learn, and I mean more and more every day, you are simply waiting for the express bus to grim reaper land. Wisdom has many facets, the wisdom to love, the wisdom to care, the wisdom to accept, the wisdom to provide, the wisdom to utilize, etc. Among the greater wisdoms in life is the wisdom to read. Like Nike says , “Just do it!”

       Granted there have been so many innovations in technology it seems as if we are trapped on a freeway with millions of cars continuously speeding past giving us no opportunity to simply cross over. BUT we can jump a car and go for the ride, see what is down the road, around the corner, and technology is making it easier and easier. Books used to be hand written, then Gutenberg invented the printing press, then we moved ever forward, from simple tracts to more widespread uses of the medium. Now we are firmly in the electronic age. I have an e-reader called “The nook” from Barnes and Noble. I can download virtually every book ever written from anywhere in the world via it’s cellular connection, or from a Wi-Fi hotspot at no additional cost to me, other than the book. It’s almost “spooky” how easy it is.

       For example, this morning as I was drinking my coffee I finished a 364 page novel about an FBI forensic agent named Maggie O’Dell, with one “click” of my finger, my entire library of books comes up on the screen of the e-reader, I look at the twenty or so I have (I probably spent less than 25% of what they would have cost if I went to the store and bought them, plus storage after I finish them.) With e-books, the “books” are stored “in the cloud” an endless data storage place somewhere other than my piece of equipment, but instantly accessible to me . After a quick peruse I decide to see if I can find a change, “click”, and now I am “shopping” every title Barnes and Noble has, including hot “new Releases” in a daily Update sheet. “click” I drill down on a new Frederick Forsythe novel called “Cobra” that just came out, read the quick “dustcover” synopsis of it. Still not to sure I “click” again and I’ve got the first couple of chapters as a full “sample”, just like I might read at the store before making my buying decision, I read them, I like the book so far,…..”click” I hit the buy button, screen comes up and says my purchase is made and downloading now, ten seconds later, the entire book is in my “Library”, “click” I’m starting the third chapter where I left off. All this in less than one minute, never left the breakfast table, and my coffee is still hot!! You gotta love it.

       But I slid on down to the Bookstore, Barnes and Noble, and there was the book I bought yesterday morning at the breakfast table for $12, on the rack on sale for the price of $29.99,… gotta love it.

      I suppose as long as I can still get “books” life is good, but here in the Southern US the emphasis is not that heavy on education, and reading. That is the sad  commentary and point of this blog. Education, information and knowledge are a mere fingertip away, yet “Bubba” wants to go fishin’ and watch NASCAR!



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