Feng Shui by Clear Englebert

Feng Shui & Real Books (Part 1)

Feng Shui & Real Books (Part 1)

Magazine and two books set next to each other.
The real deal — and all really good!

Real books are yang, and virtual books (ebooks and anything else read or watched on an electronic screen) are yin. That’s because real books have physical substance and virtual anything doesn’t—it’s ephemeral.

The second chapter of Temple Grandin’s latest (fabulous) book, Visual Thinking, is titled “Screened Out.” In it she makes the point that when she travels (which she does a lot) she pretty much no longer sees people reading books or magazines. They’re all looking at little screens. She calls it what it is—an addiction. She goes on to say that it is “directly connected to a larger failure: the loss of trained workers in this country, the loss of people who are good at working with their hands and who are likely visual thinkers. Every minute a child is on a video game is a lost opportunity to learn about cars, planes, working with tools, getting out in nature. Most students never have the chance to learn what they might be good at. Restoring shop, art, music, and home economics to schooling would help. Another great way to expose kids to different ideas and potential careers is through field trips.”

The great naturalist Rachel Carson urged parents to get their children out in nature and give their them “a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote to boredom and disenchantment in later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” (That’s from the wonderful book The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement by Mark Hamilton Lytle.)

In the Spring 2020 issue of the magazine Fine Books & Collections there’s an article about the philanthropist and book collector David M. Rubenstein. In his home he is surrounded by “staggering amounts of books”. (What a beautiful phrase!) He tries to read a hundred books a year. “I regularly buy more books than I can possibly read, but I like to buy them anyway.” That’s me too, and so is this, when he’s explaining why reading on screens and listening to audio books is not appealing: “I like to caress the book.” (Sigh—yes, yes, yes!)

A stack of books - the complete set of "A Gay Diary" by Donald Vining
I read this whole set several years ago. What a great window into the past!

Donald Vining, in the third volume (1954-1967) of his A Gay Diary, wrote “When reading, I stop concentrating on the contents and enjoy for a while the pleasurable sensations of nice paper, print, binding, and the size and weight of a book in my hands. When all these things are right about a book in addition to what it says, it can be a tremendous pleasure.”

I don’t own a “smartphone” or an “e-reader.” We have a brimming library in our home and woods just outside the door. Call me old-fashioned—I love that word! You can also call me yang—but not overly so.

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