In Bound to Last, thirty authors discuss their favorite books. But to tell their stories, they first have to take as truth an idea that is no longer accepted as a given—that the printed and bound book plays a necessary role in the development of a life.
Sean Manning edits this collection of essays, which features the works of a diverse group of authors, including Ray Bradbury, Danielle Trussoni , and Joyce Maynard. While the content may be the same, the experience of reading a book in print versus on an electronic device is remarkably different.
Many of the authors write about the excitement of their favorite book as an object—going to the bookstore and discovering it on the shelf, finally holding a tome you had hunted for years.
Listening to a friend talk about a cherished childhood book is heartwarming in a way that cherishing an iPad could never be. Danielle Trussoni writes about her water-stained copy of Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, a book she regularly read while bathing. Reading in the bath is one of life’s simple but enduring pleasures, but something e-Reader users would likely never risk.
Joyce Maynard writes about the sadness of failing to find her father’s Bible, the dearest book to him, after his death. The object of the Bible, more than its contents, which Maynard admits neither she nor her father ever fully embraced, became the symbol of his life, a once reassuring presence that is too easy to take for granted until it is gone.
I feel a connection to these authors who know what it feels like to hold a treasured book tight to their chest. I have my own memories of a collection of leather-bound books my parents kept in a beautiful carved wood bookcase with a glass door in our small home. Growing up, I wasn’t spoiled with possessions, and I grew to look at these books with gold-leaf pages as a possession of intense value, both for their beauty and the depth of wisdom contained between their covers that I was yet too young to understand. Later, when I was older, I would stay up late, pull out one of the books, open it to the most interesting section, and read the words, fingering the pages as I turned them. Will the next generation bond over the feeling of unwrapping a new Kindle Fire for Christmas? If so, it will be a short conversation.
Bound to Last is available for the Kindle. But why give up the feel of the glossy paperback, the look of the sturdy maroon spine on your bookcase, the joy of watching your bookmark trek through the pages as you take a journey of discovery across the black type?
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