I've featured Sarah Laing's blog enough times that I hesitate before citing it again simply because I suppose that, if you like this sort of thing, you've got it bookmarked for regular visits on your own. And if you don't, well, then today turns into "Is he going on about her again?"
Indeed he is, because her current entry is a reflection on the authors she encountered on her father's bookshelves, with portraits of them, as above, and short reflections on how her father felt about them and how she felt about them, and sometimes about how her father felt about her presenting him with the portraits.
He is apparently a little embarrassed to be a Dick Francis fan, for instance. Or perhaps to realize that he was such a fan that his daughter had picked up on it. And she doesn't go into enough detail to spoil the fun of projecting views onto the poor man, now outed as a mystery buff to the entire blogosphere.
So of course he simply comes across as having been outed as someone whose daughter loves him and learned from him (and be sure to read the comments on her blog).
Which brings us to this sentence, which floored me and I hope doesn't constitute a spoiler for a piece you should definitely go read:
I wonder if kids will read their parents’ books when they’re locked inside their kindles.
I've long decried on-line newspapers for destroying the serendipity of discovering a story you might not have otherwise read but that happened to be on the same page, or an adjoining page or a page you leafed through looking for something else.
And I will admit that some of that concern has been calmed by the little links on the side of the page, showing what other people are reading.
But Sarah's observation about electronic readers brings up a different element.
Like her, probably like most second-generation voracious readers, I pulled down books from my parents' bookshelves out of curiosity and thereby read things I would not have otherwise encountered for years if ever.
I've mentioned before their book of Barnaby cartoons, but I also pored through collections of Charles Addams, Peter Arno, Sgt. George Baker and others, which, together with my father's Christmas cards and other local cartooning, began my interest in the form.
But there were other books, books without illustrations that, as my age crept into double digits, I pulled down and read, "Animal Farm" being perhaps the first.
I certainly didn't get the political lesson at its core, but I did find that what began as a tale about talking animals turned out to be a pretty intense story about trying and failing and betrayal and so forth. However much I may have missed below the surface, it still beat hell of out any stories being offered to people in my demographic.
I was older -- maybe 11 or even 12 -- when I pulled down "Belles on Their Toes," attracted by the colorful dust jacket, and my mother suggested I start at the beginning with "Cheaper By The Dozen," which has stuck with me throughout my life and informed my own approach to being a father. I consider the fact that the shower curtain in my granddaughters' bathroom is a map of the world evidence of a second-generation being raised in a manner attributable to my parents having those books on their shelves.
I seriously doubt any of that would have come about by a parent leaving a Kindle unattended on a table. It happened because of lazy hours spent looking at those book spines, occasionally pulling them out to inspect the covers, then one day taking one down and opening it to see a page ...
And the prospect of no more bookshelves relates to a secondary observation, which is that I have a small bundle of letters my older son wrote to me when he was in the Navy, that perhaps some day one of his kids, or his grandkids, will want to read.
But, if they ask for more, they'll be out of luck, because nobody's lives are on paper anymore.
They may be able to pull up Grandpa's old blog from the depths of the Internet archives, but I'm finding that many of my on-line friends aren't updating their blogs very often anymore, either, preferring to pop up on Facebook to share a sentence or two that blows away in the dust within a day, if not that very hour.