Notes From Nestipac

By Phyllis Rauch

A Love Affair - with Books

 

kindle23My present to myself has just arrived—an Amazon Kindle reading device. I was fond of my ipod, as constant readers know, but have fallen head over heels with my latest tech acquisition, which can instantly download up to 1500 books.

Prior to Athena’s arrival, (yes, I’ve named her) a few friends said, “But you’re not giving up on real books are you?” My purist, bibliophile friends did make me feel a little guilty.

No, I’m not giving up real books. But, since Athena’s arrival, a new world has opened up for me, one that I’d enjoyed immensely before leaving the States and large public libraries.

As the San Clemente branch librarian in the early 70ties, I once wrote a newspaper column about my happy habit of letting one book lead or lure me to the next. One such reading adventure featured fellows who were either shipwrecked or marooned by choice on deserted islands.

I began with John, who had decided to maroon himself after reading a book about William’s shipwreck. I immediately sent for William’s book on interlibrary loan. Lucky John could prepare in advance, not only bringing along items necessary for survival, but also packing in oil cloth a number of his favorite books.

Some were also shipwreck memoirs, so I sent for those as well. Being the San Clemente branch librarian during the Nixon years, I could thereby imagine myself somewhere far away and totally different from conservative Orange County, CA.

Arriving at Lakeside in 1976, I discovered the tiny library in Chapala, a fair driving distance from Nestipac. Not too long afterwards the library was moved to Ajijic, but I was shocked to hear that an interim librarian had arbitrarily decided to chuck the card catalog.

Though library school is fairly dull, I do have two quite potent memories. One is of sobbing, along with my entire library history class, when we were told of the destruction of Alexandria’s irreplaceable library. The second was a strongly expressed piece of advice: “If your own library is ever on fire, forget the books! Grab the card catalog.”

Of course our LCS library has grown and improved immeasurably over the years. I have been grateful for its existence and for the hard work of all the volunteers, as I have also treasured the books and members of my weekly book club.

Pre-Internet, I was blessed by a connection with the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver. One amazing employee attended to my various reading fancies, handwriting multi-page letters describing the pros and cons of each book in question. Upon receiving my answer, this Denver friend mailed my choices by special book rate. Yes, it took forever, but how could I be anything but grateful for such intelligent and devoted attention?

With the arrival of the Internet, Amazon.com et.al, I expected new wonders but was soon disillusioned, primarily by Amazon’s mailing costs to Mexico.

When my Kindle arrived, my friend Catherine who transported it south, had already downloaded a book she was certain I’d enjoy: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Not only did I gobble down this delightful book, but I also made notes (you can do that with the Kindle) of books that the Guernsey Society or its members were especially fond of. I was back on the book path.

With a quick search and a click of my finger, I acquired Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elias ($1.99) and the letters of Seneca the Stoic. Long a P.D. James fan, I had longed to read her autobiography: Time to be in Earnest. Zoom! I had it.

Athena and I aren’t well acquainted yet. She doesn’t know that I basically consider myself to be thrifty and non-materialistic. But she makes acquiring all I desire so very easy. I hope she won’t lead me astray.

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