The Lake of Dreams: On Books and e-Books

Last fall we decided to redo the basement, ripping out the 1970s era paneling and getting rid of the funky, and paper-thin,  indoor/outdoor carpet.  We wanted a space for games and hanging out and the sewing I still occassionally do.  Now, the walls are a sunny yellow trimmed with white, and the space is completely transformed. 

We’re starting to move back into it, so I’ve been unpacking my books.  This is always the first thing I do when I move into a new place:  unpack the books.  Even though they’ve only been in storage for six months, I’m greeting them like old friends I haven’t seen in awhile.  And so they are:  I’ve had many of these books since my early days of college, and they’ve all survived the various moves and also the shelf-weeding which I’ve done (always reluctantly) over the years.  All of them evoke memories, of the places I lived, the people I knew, the quality of light on the day I read them, the discoveries I made within their covers.

They are e-books, too, but the “e” doesn’t stand for electronic.  It stands for emotion.

I have an ipad and my husband has a kindle and I’ve read books on both, but it’s a completely different experience.  I like e-books for traveling, but I can’t imagine I’ll ever  have the same kind of emotional connection with an e-reader that I do with my books.  I like being able to hold books, and glance back at the cover when I reach a place where I need to pause and contemplate.  I like knowing where I am in the text.  I like the feel of the pages. 

And I like book stores.  Earlier this year, on the US book tour for The Lake of Dreams, I did reading at Powell’s Books in Portland Oregon, a fantastic store that takes up a whole city block.  I stopped by earlier in the day to browse, and I ended up buying two books I didn’t even have in mind when I entered the store, an anthology of essays edited by Mary Oliver, and a Kate Atkinson novel.  In both cases, I didn’t even know about the books I bought until I saw them on the shelves during the hours I spent happily wandering amid the stacks.  There were a dozen other books like this, which I would have bought if the suitcase had more room–books I’d never have found online.


  1. Trina Oickle-Pottie says

    I love bookstores too. I found this quote recently, and I thought you’d enjoy it:

    A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.
    Jerry Seinfeld (1954 – )

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