As part of my Summer Reading Mania, I decided to grab my copy of Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut from my overstuffed bookshelves. Well, more than just grab. I read it, too.
Now, Vonnegut and I go way back. In high school, when my English teacher was trying to get me to read something like The Lord of the Flies, I tossed it aside and read Breakfast of Champions instead (my teacher, being a bit of a Vonnegut fan, didn’t complain about me designing my own reading program).
I haven’t read everything by Vonnegut, but to make up for that I’ve read some of his books (Galapagos, Slaughterhouse Five, and Sirens of Titan) several times. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there’s just something about Vonnegut’s simple language and wry humor that I love coming back to.
And hey, his books are short so they’re perfect when you’re trying to cram in as many books as you can during a summer reading challenge. Strategy, people, You gotta have strategy.
Getting to the Point
The premise of Timequake is that the universe is having a crisis and can’t decide whether or not to keep expanding. The result is everyone ends up having to relive the past ten years and they have to do the EXACT same things they did the first time around, both good and bad. When free will kicks in again at the end of the ten years, no one knows what to do and an unlikely hero emerges.
But this story (which in itself is very short) is woven in with Vonnegut reminiscing about old friends and dead family members, his life as a writer and his philosophizing (man, that’s a hard word to type) about life in general. It’s full of humor with a dash of nostalgia.
And that nostalgia is the point of this post (I know, you were beginning to wonder if there was one).
Vonnegut Weighs in on “Real” Books vs Ebooks
I like ebooks. They’re great for travel, I like being able to biggie size the font when my eyes are tired, and I love always having a book with me without having to lug around a hunk of dead tree.
But my reading heart will always belong to print books. There’s something about having the book in your hand, about getting to flip through the pages, and there’s even evidence our brains behave differently (better retention, more absorbed in the story) when we read via a physical book compared to an ebook.
Plus, I can’t think of anything better than that sense of exploration and discovery when you wander the shelves of a library or bookstore rather than simply clicking a button on Amazon.
Which brings me back to Timequake (written way back in 1997). At one point Vonnegut laments the possible loss of physical books to the new-fangled technology of ebooks. It captured everything I love about books.
Here’s What He Has to Say…
“…It now appears that books in the form so beloved by Uncle Alex and me, hinged and unlocked boxes, packed with leaves speckled by ink, are obsolescent.
My grandchildren are already doing much of their reading from words projected on the face of a video screen.
Please, please, please wait just a minute!
At the time of their invention, books were devices as crassly practical for storing or transmitting language, albeit fabricated from scarcely modified substances found in forest and field and animals, as the latest Silicon Valley miracles.
But by accident, not by cunning calculation, books, because of their weight and texture, and because of their sweetly token resistance to manipulation, involve our hands and eyes, and then our minds and souls, in a spiritual adventure I would be very sorry for my grandchildren not to know about.”
An adventure indeed!
What about you? Do you hold a nostalgic love for physical books or have you fully entered the ebook realm? Do you ever visit bookstores and libraries just to hang out with the books? Share your reading thoughts in a comment!!
Due to some slightly scary medical things going on, I’m going to take a break from the blog this Saturday, but I should (hopefully) be back either next Wednesday or Saturday with some news and updates from my writing world!!