Kindle is a wonderful thing. You can download books from almost anywhere, it has an inbuilt dictionary, and its saves paper too. But it doesn’t give me the two wonderful experiences I had the other day.
A friend had recommended that I would enjoy Anthony Powell’s “A Dance to the Music of Time”. I enjoy the hunt of finding it in the Stanford stacks, walking through the long, softly lit and quiet hallways surrounded by millions of volumes, the heritage of countless civilizations.
I find the book and I see it was once owned by a Stanford professor who was born a century ago. I see his notes in the margins and gain a connection to some gifted thinker who is no longer alive. And I feel gratitude that he has left me, a stranger from the future, a true gift: A cherished book.
I like the weight of it in my bag, the feel of it in my hand as I read it, and the smell of the old pages. I am carrying a secret treasure from another time.
I spend much of the same day with Nick Reding, the writer of the magnificent book “Methland”. At a group lunch we pepper him with questions, and at the end several people hand Nick their copy of the book and ask for an inscription, which Nick kindly provides. Except for one guest, who with a bit of embarassment says “I did read your book and I loved it. I wish there were a way to autograph a Kindle”.