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Recommended Reading: “In a Mother’s Library, Bound in Spirit and in Print”

favicon Nick Bilton last week wrote an ode to physical books in “In a Mother’s Library, Bound in Spirit and in Print.” It strikes all the key notes: his mother’s passing, the inheritance of a 3,000-book library, her notes in the books’ margins, memories of childhood, and plenty of emotion.

In the piece, Mr. Bilton does not take sides on the perennial e-books vs. physical books debates. Each is good for its purpose. But if the purpose is to remember a loved one, then we know which format is better.

“In late March, a few days after my mother died from cancer, I sat in a cold living room in the north of England with my two sisters as a lawyer read my mother’s last will and testament. We were told that her modest estate would be divided evenly among her three children, with one exception.”

It always gets me thinking: Will people say the same thing about photographs? Many funerals now include hand-constructed tributes that include physical prints. What about a slideshow projected on a screen? Less emotional and impactful?

As for physical books, yes, there will always be that tactile experience, the feeling of the paper, the quality that an object takes on in an environment. It’s maybe true that a physical book offers a better reminder of having read a book.

But on the other hand, I don’t think I’ll forget reading Last Chance in Texas or Just Mercy anytime soon. Those books will stay with me even if their contents live inside my Kindle rather than on my bookshelf. favicon

Source: http://j.mp/1d7CUCM (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a curated list of my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. favicon

One comment

  1. mgodwin72

    When she died, my sister and I went through my mom’s small library, getting rid of most of the books but keeping some that spoke to us, for whatever reason. My mom wasn’t a notes-in-the-margin kinda woman; John Grisham reads too easily for that. Just the experience of going through her books, though, and seeing how her tastes had changed over the years and imagining her reading the books was comforting. Some of our findings were surprising: she had three copies of Dr. Phil’s book! In thinking about what kind of man my step-father was, though, it made sense that she had as many copies of Dr. Phil as she could get a hold of. I use her bookmark with her name on it, and I have some of her books in my own library now. I like to think about passing them on to my own son one day.
    (Because everyone can learn something from Dr. Phil!)

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