Did You Ever See a Book Cry?

Image: CC/Mick Orlosky/Flickr

Do you enjoy reading as much on a Kindle or other devices as much as you like reading an old-fashioned book?

On the red-eye flight returning from L.A.– the lights were on, digital ones of course, for the overhead lights were out – it was 2 AM. The Treos, BlackBerries, iPhones, iPods and Kindles were glowing their digital messages giving the cabin an eerie aura.

So there I was in the midst of this new-age flight, reading a hardcover book. It dated me. Like saying “record” when you mean “CD.” But you know what? I didn’t care.

Suddenly a strange thing occurred. In the midst of a rather disturbing turbulent bump, my book’s eyes opened (I didn’t know a book had eyes). Suddenly tears rolled down onto its cover and it spoke. “I’m over,” s/he said. “Done for. Everything is chroma, I’m black and white. They discount me in supermarkets, sell coffee and knickknacks in bookstores just to keep me breathing.” (Boy this book could talk.) “I have no ma-and-pop shops anymore to keep me feeling like I have a home. I’m an artifact, a dinosaur, I’ve lost my bookmark. I’m a mere smudge.”

Alarmed at this emotional supernatural occurrence, I whispered to my book, “I love you. I love the way you feel. The way you pack in my suitcase without taking space or spilling. The way your last page always keeps me waiting and your first page invites me in. I loved you when you were a Bible or Shakespeare, or Dostoevsky. No Kindle could light that fire. Even when I couldn’t read, I loved you as a picture book. For me you are eternal and always unique.” “Alas,” the book sobbed, “I’ll never be a first edition again, no one will collect me, no one will ever treasure my existence as they once did.”

Without anyone looking, I wiped the book’s tears away and kissed it gently. “You will always be special to me,” I whispered. “And one day when a Y2Kish incident traumatizes earthlings and the lights go out and everyone is stranded, you and me babe, we’ll be together. We’ll light a candle and read the map to eternal safety.” The tears stopped and the book’s eyes disappeared into its jacket. No one will ever know what happened in that sky at 32,000 feet. I tilted my seat backward, closed my eyes and hugged my dear book, clutching it to my heart.

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