The Last Book on Earth

At my last book club meeting there was a lengthy discussion about how technology is changing the experience of reading. The idea of the ‘Last Book on Earth’ was discussed as we considered the number of people reading on a computer, an IPAD, or a Kindle. The idea of reading paper books is beginning to look antiquated. Much like carbon paper and mimeographs were made obsolete by the photocopier, soon books could be replaced and instead of being ‘reused’ could land in the recycling pile. Think about how the IPOD, which enabled the instant downloading of music via the internet, revolutionized how we experience music. Why should the replacement of books be any different?

For some reason during this discussion of the potential obsolescence of books, I had a flashback to historic films about the burning of books during WWII and wondered if the elimination of paper books was really a good idea. There is something about the idea of holding a book in your hand that seems more solid, more real. How would people feel if a Minister or Rabbi read from an IPAD instead of from an actual Bible or Torah? I am not even religious, but the picture just strikes me as odd.

As I thought more about the idea of burned books, I decided to look up the list of ‘banned books’. You might be surprised by the books that have been banned by governments at one time or another. Previously banned books include 1984, Animal Farm, The Grapes of Wrath, Brave New World, and even, Dick and Jane? Strange how the previously banned books made it to the top of my classics reading list in high school.

For some reason, I have a fear about letting a single entity (like the government) control books that ‘they’ decide should be available for people to read. I mean the government does control all of the libraries, don’t they? With the number of large corporations competing for our books buying business, this isn’t likely to happen, but it is possible.

Then again, if people want to read books, they can find them, but what if there were not actual books? Will there be ‘bootleg’ copies on thumb drives? What if the government could erase all versions of a book like “The Diary of Anne Frank” (another previously banned book) removing all recorded history of it. I could envision a technological burning of books that could occur. It could be done quietly with no puff of smoke, just a quiet whirring of a hard-drive. Scary isn’t it?

So as some of us grasp tightly to our paper books, others clear out their bookshelves (I wonder if bookshelves are next to go obsolete since we won’t need to store books on them any more?). The world as we know it continues to change from the elimination of books and even bookshelves. However, if you could save one book to be your ‘Last Book on Earth’, what would it be?

A trashy novel ?

I just finished reading my first Janet Evanovich book called “The Rocky Road to Romance”. I am not sure what I expected, but I may have been expecting more than I got. Funny how you have certain ideas about books before you read them. I was expecting mystery, wit and intrigue with some romance. I guess I was expecting more mystery and intrigue and less romance. Then again, I really should have paid more attention to the title.

Maybe my idea of romance – love that grows over months or years, or develop a deep personal connection, are too much to ask from a 200 page book with large font. Do women really want to escape real life like this? I can see now why many women are lulled into the belief that Prince Charming is going to come along and sweep them off their feet. Sweep me off my feet? Can he just sweep the kitchen floor? As for this book it seems to follow the Cinderella theme. Since it can’t be Prince Charming to ‘save us’, why not an oil tycoon who manages a radio station?

The ‘Cinderella’ of this story did not have an evil stepmother, however Daisy (the leading lady here) was over-worked and under-paid. However this situation seemed to have been self-imposed (or doesn’t everyone volunteer as a crossing guard after we deliver the morning papers and before we head off to the radio station for our ‘real job’). As I just wrote that last bit I felt more like Daisy that I realized. I am a freak of nature burning the candle at both ends on a regular basis; Writing blogs, making jewelry, and reading books in between making dinner and listening to my 7-year-old reading his homework. I also can make breakfast, fold laundry and get the kids dressed for school…all at the same time. If squeezing all the things I love to do into a day doesn’t work (I am the master of multi-tasking) I stay up until midnight doing this thing that I love called writing. Maybe this stuff is more like real life than I thought?

I do have a Prince Charming, however he isn’t sweeping my floor, protecting me from killers, or lending me his cool horse to ride (or car to drive). Instead he is fast asleep already. It is only 11:30 PM why does he have to go to bed so early? I wonder for a moment, am I Daisy (a.k.a Cinderella)? Probably, but books are fantasy and real life is, well, lacking perfection. I don’t expect perfection, but it would be nice to escape to it once in a while. I guess that is why novels like the one I just read are so popular. No one wants to read about a ‘regular guy’ do they?