When books are no longer consumed like popcorn or potato chips, when time to read becomes like water in the desert, discrimination seeps in. If I’m gonna spend a couple of hours reading poolside on a family reunion vacation cruise to Mexico, I want to make sure what I’m reading is a fine Belgium chocolate, not a waxy Palmer’s coin.
At my fingertips I have literally a thousand eBooks, but like a true connoisseur, it’s paper that I crave, so in my cover-up and slippahs I head down to the ship’s library. As I wander along the recessed bookshelves trailing my fingers along the extra lip that keeps the books secure in rougher seas, I tickle the spines of some old friends, but nothing new jumps out, begging to entertain me in the sun. I’ve come too late, I fear, all the slick popular books are already squirreled away in cabins and beach bags. I hope they’ll get read and not spend the week melting in the Mexican heat.
I look at my eReader and sigh. So much for old school. I’ll have to sit in the shade if I want to read.
But back on deck I choose a different path. Instead of spending a few precious free hours unchained by computer, housework, and carpool commitments and reading purely for pleasure I do something even rarer. I stand at the rail and scan the horizon for whale spouts and wonder how many ancestors sailed these same seas and why I feel more at home on the ocean with the deck gently rolling beneath my feet than curled on the couch in my living room.