“We stopped to browse in the cases, and now that William – with his new glasses on his nose – could linger and read the books, at every title he discovered he let out exclamations of happiness, either because he knew the work, or because he had been seeking it for a long time, or finally because he had never heard it mentioned and was highly excited and titillated. In short, for him every book was like a fabulous animal that he was meeting in a strange land.”
— from The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, 1980
When I found this book at a used book sale, I had read nothing by Umberto Eco. I only knew it was a thick book, it was about a mystery at a medieval abbey, and my quick glance inside told me I would need a dictionary nearby. I couldn’t wait to read it! While reading it, I had to concentrate uncommonly hard, and that pleased me. A good challenge was just what I needed inbetween changing diapers and reading There’s a Wocket in my Pocket. I enjoyed the intellectualism, the immersion in a monk’s culture, the importance placed on books, even the strange (although sometimes bloody and weird) mystery. When finished, I still didn’t understand everything, and that left me something to ponder, and I liked that. Now, about three years after I read the book, it strikes me that I’m a lot like William in the above quote. This book on my lap is like a fabulous animal from a strange land. And it belongs in my menagerie of marvelously different books, all from strange and wonderful places.
I’ve just ordered my first ebook reader (I told my husband it was his Christmas gift to me), and I wonder what it will be like to have an electronic library. Will it decrease my fascination with the books I read, or will it simply modernize that fascination?