Hissy Fit - March 2024 - Turn the Page: And Keep on Bookin’

...because everyone needs one every once in awhile


March 2024 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen

 The other night, as I was sitting in bed reading,
something caught my attention.

It stirred emotion deep within me, bringing back special memories.
It was merely a sound, one I have heard thousands of times.
The sound was simply the quiet rustle of the page as
I turned it to read on.

I had been reading almost 20 minutes when this sound aroused my senses. I’m still not sure what it was about this particular turn of the page that interrupted my focus and turned my attention to the book itself. For a brief moment, I relished the book I was holding in my hands, and without another thought, continued reading.

The moment stuck with me. That sound is something I like, and it is becoming endangered. Just as mankind has threatened and thrashed species such as the Asian elephant, black rhino, Siberian tiger and giant panda, all which are on the top ten list of the most endangered species in the world, we are now bringing similar threats to something so many of us adore… books.

New technology is cool and all, but when you stop and think of the ramifications, it begins to lose its luster. Imagine bedtime stories with with your child or grandchild reading Goodnight Moon to him from an electronic, handheld reader. Sure, he’ll get the gist of the book, but what about all the human touches that will be missing? That little guy wanting to hold the book like a big boy and pretend to read to his mommy, his teeth marks in the corner of the hardbound pasteboard cover, little Juicy-Juice finger prints on one of the pages—all the things that evoke memories and that will bring them racing back when he pulls the same book out to read to his children. By that point, 23 ½ new versions of the electronic reader will have been marketed to our disposable appetites, and the one that held Goodnight Moon will be lying in a landfill somewhere not decaying.

Another thing I love about books is the smell. I have Eartha’s (she kept me everyday from birth) very old Bible. It was her mother’s, and it still smells like a mix of must, Vick’s Vapor Rub and cedar. I love to close my eyes and let that smell fill my olfactory and my heart. It takes me right back to childhood, sitting on Eartha’s lap. I miss her, and I am so grateful to have her Bible. I know she read it diligently. I know her hands scanned down those pages. I love that my hands can scan down those pages, too, and still make a connection. All of the dates—births, marriages, deaths—and events written in the margins are priceless. Written recordings such as these become pieces of history that have afforded many families to research their heritage, finding and filling in missing pieces of their genealogy puzzle. Sure it’s convenient to download 60,000 books into a handheld reader—a true sign of the times of sensory overload-- but at what cost to the personalization of humanity?

I am a book lover. I bought a set of early 1900s Charles Dickens leather bound books at an estate sale some 30 years ago. They not only fill my book shelf with beauty, they also tell a story beyond their pages. They exude intelligence, appreciation and curiosity. They give insight about me to those scanning my bookshelves. All the books do. In fact, one can learn a lot about someone by scanning their bookshelves. Many delightful conversations have been started from the commonality over a book. This is where similitude can be found or lost—a glimpse of where your interests lie.

Last summer, as I walked on the beach there were a gazillion people with readers, but there were also people, albeit less in number—who still had books. YES! As I passed by, there must have been eight to ten women reading Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I struck up a conversation with three or four of them, as I had not read the book yet, but heard it was fabulous. I gained great insight from complete strangers all over a book…a real book.

Handheld readers, like so many pieces of today’s technology, encourage isolation. No one can tell what you are reading, so no one asks if it’s good or not. We are all so plugged-in, which makes us tuned out to everything—people, places, and things around us. It’s ironic really, that being electronically connected is
so disconnecting.

Won’t you get on the same page as me and help save the book? How can a book be a page turner when there are no pages? Should we now call a page turner a scroll roll? No! I don’t want to scroll. Maybe we can launch a bumper sticker campaign: No Readers…Just Books. Well, maybe not. How about: Books are People Too? Don’t Shelve Books? Life really is meant to be lived… buy the book. I’ve got it: Keep on Bookin’!