Friday, October 25, 2013

Off the Shelf

It used to come from the shelves, this book enchantment. Pictures gleaming or protected beneath translucent sepia jackets and soft feather pages whispering against my thumb, trailheads marked by a few paragraphs on the back. Perhaps they would come from the shelves of friends, piled against my wrist as I left, back when you hung out deep in the heart of your friends' houses, when living rooms were for the formalities of your relatives.

I still read as if it was just another autonomic response. More often, the enchantment comes from books that are suggested to me--books I would never have pulled off the shelves on my own. I had dismissed Harry Potter when it first came out; it is easy to assume you've read enough to not have the capacity for one more Book X...high fantasy, under 18 protagonist, whatever. So I borrow someone else's enthusiasm and realize it makes you happy, too.

That happened once again this weekend when I read Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. A passing mention in a writer's group caused me to download the novel. Once I started, I sank into the words so deeply that my husband opening a door made me jump. I had to curl up in a back bedroom, shut the door, and read until it was done. Like the best books, the ending seemed to leave the created world on the edge of infinity instead of shutting the narrative down.

Later, I found that ideas such as the end of scarcity and the use of reputation for currency would shift the way I perceived my own media consumption; these ideas are still percolating.

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