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Friday, February 19, 2021

The death of print

I'm a reader. but I haven't always been one. I learned to read when I was four, but didn't think much of it until I finished my first chapter book, at seven or eight, A Bobbsie twin book. I don't remember the title, but the author was Laura Lee Hope. I know now that it was a book produced by a factory, like the Hardy Boys books. But it made an inpression on me. I still remember the names of the twins; Nan and Bert, Freddie and Flossie. It was illustrated with line drawings, as I remember. I had other books that I liked just for the pictures. One was a compendium of nursery rhymes illustrated by a number of artists; arther Rackham was one. My aunt owned a bookstore in Danver, and she would send me books. among them was Mary Poppins, and The Wind in the Willows, and the christopher Robin books, books that I loved and re-read until the covers fell off and the books deteriorated. I loved the Englishness of them, so different from my American childhood. I longed to eat scones and ride in lifts; the foreignness of them made them more exciting. I became an Anglophile, though I wasn't familiar with the word until I was much older. w When I was thirteen I was miserable from circumstances beyond my control. I was waiting for my mother in a drugstore, which had a rack of books. I pulled out a book by PG Wodehouse, one of the earliest Jeeves books, a collection of Bertie Wooster stories.I felt like stout Cortez when on a peak in Darien.* I hAD discovered a new reason for living. Fortunately the Bexley Public Library had plenty more Wodehouse, having not weeded the collection in the last 25 years, blesss their hearts! i have to confess that I prefer reading books the old-fashioned way, line by line. But no one else does. People encourage their children to read, but they don't read themselves. People appear to believe that books are an excellent thing for somebody else and act accordingly. Meanwhile, there are no more books in drugstores, department stores, or grocery stores, so no one just picks up a book in the course of their lives, by serendipity. *Look it up. Hint: it's from a poem by Keats. .

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