Jennifer Nettles recently took to Sugarland’s website to blog about her love of books! Read below for her blog post…
Judge a Book by its Cover? You Bet!
In the super high tech world of iPads (which I love, but not for books), kindles, etc., I find myself sad at the potential of losing the tangible literary arts to the digital deity of convenience. I love books. I love the way they smell. I love libraries. I love the way they smell. I love discovering the artwork and choice of paper by the author and publisher. I love book marks. They can be beautiful little pieces of functional art in and of themselves. Metal and hook-like. Beaded. All sorts of book marks. I love book stores. I love the way they smell. I love the way you can see so many different kinds of people searching through sections of so many diverse subjects and disciplines. Sigh.
Look, I realize that Borders or Barnes and Noble aren’t just about to ,poof, disappear. But, if you look at the way the music industry has changed with technology, well, let’s just say your friendly, neighborhood record stores are neither in the neighborhood nor record stores for the most part. (Don’t get me wrong. I love the ease and convenience of going online and getting the latest album of interest! I just miss the romance). Does anyone remember “High Fidelity”? Or the awesome scene in “Pretty in Pink” when Ducky comes in and does his killer dance to “Try a Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding? Record stores were a place of culture. A place to find culture. A place to share culture. So are book stores.
And don’t try and give me the “environmental” argument. I love this world and its trees and you can’t tell me that books are the cause of our losing the rain forest. On the contrary I would argue that useless, asinine, office work along with overall product packaging and items like paper towels and junk mail tend to burn through the Amazon (no pun intended. I really mean the jungle:-) way faster than your average copy of “War and Peace”.
And what about bookshelves? I love my bookshelf. I sometimes go and just stare at it, chronicling those books I’ve read and those that still await me there. You can tell a lot about a person by her bookshelf. What will we fill them with if we stop reading tangible books? Tchotchkeys? What-Nots? Those annoying “Precious Moments” figurines? Could it be that one day the bookshelf will be an architectural relic that will date a building at a certain age. (“Ah yes, and the study, built in 1993, has actual built-in bookshelves, giving it a quaint, nostalgic, old educated charm”).
Moreover, what am I going to do in the airport or subway when I can’t look over and judge the person next to me by the book he’s reading? This is where I really get annoyed. I love to look at someone’s book choice and make up my own story about who he/she is and what he/she’s like. Let’s call it “judging a book by its cover” if you will. If you’re reading a book I’ve read, I get an automatic connection with you. “Oh, ‘Peony in Love’! What a wonderful book!”. (I actually saw a lady on the plane reading it a couple of months ago and said that. Automatic connection. “I’ve-read-that-book-and-you’re-reading-that-book.-We-could-be-friends”-type-stuff.) And don’t worry, I crouched in the corner like every other full grown woman as I devoured the whole “Twilight” series. I couldn’t stop. But I was aware people might be looking at the cover and thinking, “there is a full grown woman obsessed with a book for teenage girls”. (Don’t even get me started about the book my Mother made me read, “Something Borrowed”. It was a super fast read, and a guilty pleasure, and I loved it. While I didn’t mind the title too much, I was devastated by the cover, telling her, “Mama, it’s pink!”. I don’t do pink fyi). It’s as if a book can become another accessory, offering insight into the reader. For example, I have proudly displayed my copies of “A Winter’s Tale” (Mark Helprin), “A Wild Sheep Chase” (Murakami) or “Eating Animals” (Jonathan Safran Foer) in airports, coffee shops etc. They are tangible, collectible works of art. They are also symbols offering a glimpse of my tastes, likes, dislikes or just plain interests.
Currently I just finished reading “Wild Swans”. I was sort of tricked because I thought it might have been based on the lives of three generations of Chinese women as opposed to a biography of the ACTUAL lives of three generations of Chinese women. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty fascinating, but biographies are slow reads to me. I’m more of a novel gal. However, I harbor the guilt of a writer who, upon once opening a book, feels committed to see it through. Only once do I consciously remember abandoning a book before finishing it. So, I committed to finishing this beautiful biography and I’m glad I did. I learned so much about China. Wild stuff.
I’ve currently told myself that I can’t go back to the book store before I read through some more of the books on my shelf. We’ll see how long this lasts. In the meantime, my plan is to read “Committed”, the new Elizabeth Gilbert book, followed by “The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde” which sits currently on my shelf. Then, everyone who sees its cover will know how funny I am. (He was terribly witty). That is unless I see the guy next to me in the airport with an interesting cover and have to go get that one…….