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Friday, July 30, 2010

Sun, sand and books

My daughter and I returned home from our Girls Road Trip 2010 last week. We made a round trip 2500 mile loop from our SW Missouri home to the north east coast of Florida, not far from where we lived for eighteen years. Can't get much more land-locked than smack in the middle of the USA and after three years of living here, we missed the ocean something fierce.

I had no worries that the beach town had gone through radical changes since I'd left it. I expected changes but nothing drastic. There were new houses and restaurants, a few more shops and more traffic that went along with the growth, but life in and around the Atlantic hadn't changed. That phrase, you can never go back home doesn't hold true for the ocean. One not crippled by human-made disasters is a safe place for the nostalgic person to return to. Tides, surf sounds, beaches, shells, sand crabs, sea birds. Every size, shape and age of people in and around the water. Five, ten, twenty years could pass before I get to the ocean again and when I do, I can feel confident that what I love about it will still be as I had left it.

I expect I will find the same beachgoing activities in a decade as I found last week. Walking, jogging, kite flying, castle building, eating, drinking, reading. I was so happy to see that reading is still favored by so many beach lovers. Educational associations, writer's loops and book purchasing statistics have raised concerns about the decline of reading in this country. We're told paper book purchases are down, ebook purchases are up. I expected to see either no readers or those who were reading to have the popular Kindle or other handheld reading device inches away from their faces. Like the Kindle television commercial with the couple sitting in cozy canvas chairs on the beach, their backs to the camera, each reading from a Kindle. In the week I spent oceanside I saw not a single one. Paperback and hardback books yes, but no handhelds. Not that it matters to me what method someone uses to read a book, as long as books are still being read. But I was surprised and pleased--no offense to those of you who use electronic methods to read--to see so many actual books being enjoyed.

I'm strictly old school. I have to hold a book, turn the pages with my fingers, see actual print on paper, use a bookmark from my vast collection to mark my stopping place. Apparently plenty of people agree with me. But even more important is they agree that a good book is a fantastic beach companion. And as writers, that is absolutely something for us to celebrate.



Tina Donahue said...

Interesting post, Polly. I, too, see a lot of paperback/hardback books when I'm out. However, that will change. When today's children are adults, they'll be so used to eReaders, they'll wonder what the fuss was all about.

Too, we'll be saving trees (always a good thing), gas (another good thing), warehousing, and all that.

History is filled with people who said TV, the Internet, groups with guitars (eg: the Beatles), wouldn't make it.

But we all know they did. :)

Katalina Leon said...

I think common sense enters here. People who just bought a new e-reader and fell in love with it might be reluctant to take their new baby to the beach. I wouldn't if I had a paper back book instead. Water, sand and salt don't mix with electronics... As the novelty wears off or e-readers get tougher-they'll go to the beach.

Judy said...

I agree with you, I love the feel of a book. I am eventually going to break down and buy an ereader, I just don't really know which one to buy.

Great post!!

jean hart stewart said...

I strictly love paper books, but love my e-reader too. Although I'd be wary of taking it to the oceanside. I read both but agree but agree with Tina, e-books will someday come out on top. So glad you got back to the beach, girl, even temporarily. Love the beach myself, and feel so sorry for New Orleans.

Sandy said...

I love your post, Polly. You brought so many memories back of the beach.

Thanks a bunch.

I forgot to say I have been looking at ereaders but can't decide on which one. The IPad looks great, but I don't want all the other gadgets.

April Ash said...

There's room for ebooks and print...but I think the next few generations will change how we read as younger people get more involved with newer technology.
Just took my Kindle to the hospital as I waited for my husband to have surgery. After 4 hours, I'd finished one book and started another. The Kindle fit easily into my purse...two books would not have found room there.

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