Yesterday, as I was leaving school and bracing myself for a walk through the Tauntaun-killing cold we’re enduring here in Indiana, a fellow student stepped into the elevator holding a fairly thick paperback novel.
I like to think all book lovers have a book radar (patent pending). If someone walks into a room holding one or I pass by another person reading, I try to figure out what they have their nose stuck in as inconspicuously as possible. Since we were in an elevator, I didn’t have to be sneaky about it.
“So what book are you reading?”
The guy enthusiastically flipped the book over for me to see its cover, which proclaimed in bright-red font, that it was “L.A. Confidential” by James Ellroy. I had no idea, though I should safely assume by now, that the 1997 movie starring Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe was based on a book.
As we walked out of the building, our conversation breezed through our favorite parts of the movie, which we had both just watched recently.
Mine was the filing room brawl between Crowe and Guy Pearce. His was the three-pronged interrogation scene. We both loved the climactic shootout between good and bad cops.
He informed me “L.A. Confidential” was actually part of a series of true-crime novels. In hindsight, I’m baffled that the other books in the series weren’t made into movies when the adaptation of the 1990 book was nominated for Best Picture in 1998 (and lost to the less deserving “Titanic”).
But just as soon as our chat had commenced, we parted ways.
This is one of the primary reasons – one I only realized recently – that I’ll never fully convert to reading my books in the electronic format.
Whenever I get the chance (when it’s not below 20-degrees every day) I carry around the book I’m consuming, wherever I’m going. You never know who is going to start a conversation with you because they notice you hefting a book in your hands.
Which is more enthralling? Discussing the books that haphazardly occupy the bookshelf at the foot of your bed or sliding a small electronic square across a table?
When was the last time your eye’s attention was drawn to someone walking down the sidewalk clutching an e-reader to their chest?
Before I give the wrong impression, I own a Kindle.
I got it from Amazon for $9. How could I pass that up? Remember, I said I would never “fully” convert to e-readers.
But I can live with myself reading a single free e-book every once in awhile thanks to the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
There’s also the sense of accomplishment.
It will never feel as good to power off my Kindle and say “I can’t believe I read that entire 20 MB file” as it will to snap a book closed and proclaim to no one in particular, “Yeah, I just finished reading Bob Woodward’s 444 page book about the U.S. Supreme Court from 1969 – 1975. It wasn’t as engaging as ‘The Final Days’ but I learned a lot.”
Most importantly, I couldn’t live without the smell.
My absolute favorite smell to breath in is that of an old, weathered book.
You know the smell. It’s the best part about walking into a used book store or your campus library.
It’s the whiff of thousands of books that have passed through countless hands. Tomes that have been enjoyed, loathed, analyzed, devoured and passed down by people I’ll never meet. It’s the smell of a book that sat on a shelf for a decade waiting for you to stumble upon it.
The book someone will notice you engrossed in one table over at the cafe you visit once or twice a month.
The book that starts the conversation.
When has a simple conversation over a book led you to unexpected places? Share in the comments!