September 20, 2010

Obligatory National LIteracy Month Post

Recently, I was reading a group of messages on this Twitter doohickey that has all the young 'uns enraptured, and I came across this tweet from Open Books, a super cool Chicago bookstore that reminds me of one of my old St. Louis haunts.

But the challenge was to share about what reading and writing means to me, in celebration of National Literacy Month, and it's a real challenge because I'm so used to having books around, I can't imagine a time in my life without them.

My mother once told me that the day after I was born, my father purchased a copy of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and read it to me. My earliest comic book memory was reading Superman fighting the Galactic Golem. My first CTA trip was to my paternal grandparents (who lived on 40th Place off of Archer and California), with a walk down to the Brighton Park library near Archer and Kedzie.

(At one point, I was nearly arrested for library card fraud, as I had three - count 'em, three - library cards at once. Long story).

But what books and writing gave me were a chance to improve myself. Never mind that they opened my mind to different ways of thinking...books were my way of gaining insightful knowledge, of learning how to be in this world, and were a really cheap source of entertainment.

Writing gave me the ability to express myself - from well crafted essays to poetry to high school crushes (which I hope my then-would-be-paramours have destroyed), the ability to put words together is something I treasure, and would never take for granted. (Otherwise, this blog would be nothing more than inarticulate grunting).

In an age with increasing technological advancement and sophistication in popular culture, there is something refreshing about the simplicity of words on a page...that can be read at a casual pace, without the need for electricity, or even sophisticated equipment. Between two covers is a gateway of imagination and insight, amazingly simple in design but complicated in its influence.

In the past six months, I've had interactions with two "new media" types on Twitter - one was a woman who wondered why people still went to libraries; the other was a guy who complained that Ebert was off by preferring e-books to regular books. Both of them missed the point.

It's not about being on the cutting edge - it's about sharpening that edge.

Or in other words, what would have happened if that infamous Twilight Zone episode were made in the Internet age?

More than likely, Librivox would come to the rescue.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

3 library cards! Dedication or split personalities?