Michelle Martin

A good book

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

When I was a kid, I could spend an entire day reading.

I would lie on my bed, curl up in a big chair or find a spot on the sun room floor, behind the living room couch.

I wasn’t hiding, exactly. Just finding a cozy spot where I was unlikely to be disturbed while I let the words take me to another world entirely.

As the weather turns colder and the sun goes down before afternoon is really over, I find myself wanting to spend more time lost in a book.

Don’t get me wrong: I love e-books. I love that I can browse the public library’s offerings at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday and borrow something new. I love that I can carry not just one but a dozen books around on my phone, or prop my tablet on the elliptical machine at the gym without having to resort to rubber bands or clips to keep it on the right page.

Reference books in electronic form are a godsend. Need to know how to spell a word? Make your best attempt and let the online dictionary sort it out. Need to know how a toilet works, or when the War of 1812 ended? The internet is your friend.

But there’s something about an actual printed book, something I can hold in my hands that smells of paper and ink, and, if it’s of a certain age, dust. It’s a thing, as real and tangible as the words and the world they create in my mind are ephemeral.

A book (not a library book, one of my own) is something I can write in. I can dog-ear the pages to mark my place, or mark places I want to go back to. Just seeing a book on my shelf (or, let’s be honest, in the stack on the floor by my bed) can remind of the places it took me, sort of like a souvenir from a trip.

That might be why I have such a hard time parting from all the board books and picture books I read to my kids when they were babies. I’m pretty sure I can still recite “Goodnight Moon” if I try.

Having a book in my hands is a signal to anyone who sees me that I am, in fact reading. Reading something in long form even, not scrolling through Twitter or playing Candy Crush. Which means that any and all interruptions will not necessarily be welcome.

As I’ve explained many times, I am doing something. I’m reading. So unless there’s something important I need to hear, could you please wait until I’m done with this chapter?

As Christians, we rely on the Bible, our holy book, to teach us about God: the God who created us, who comforts us and strengthens us with his Spirit, who came and lived among us. We also rely on the words of the saints and other holy people to help us understand God’s divinity and our humanity.





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