Although I faithfully note new books I want to read, I can never be number one on the library wait list. It doesn’t help that the book is not yet listed when I log in, anxious to find it. It doesn’t help that the library “wish list” can only include books in cataloguing. Mostly, it doesn’t help that I forget about the book until I see another ad or review – usually weeks later. By then, other more diligent readers have already ordered the book, and I am number 198 for the new Jeffrey Archer, or 20 for Donna Leon’s new mystery, and still holding at 14 for The Luminaries. Is it any wonder that my electronic book bill has soared? Sometimes, I just can’t wait.
A friend recently sent me an article from the Washington Post about the slow-reading movement and the effects of digital reading on the brain – Serious Reading Takes A Hit from Online Scanning and Skimming. It struck me as I “skimmed” the article that library users may be promoters of this movement, sometimes forcing me to revert to digital text that may be eroding what is left of my brain. Michael Rosenwald writes in the Post:
Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on… Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout…We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.
The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading…
Will we become Twitter brains?”
I worry that books will disappear – like bookstores. I happily still prefer holding the pages and flipping back to remember who died – harder to do on an e-book, even with those red bookmarks. But when the wait is long, and the price is right, those electronic books fill my need every time. How about you?
After watching Emma Thompson’s portrayal of author P.L. Travers in Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” I researched the truth of the story in articles by the New Yorker – Becoming Mary Poppins – and in the New York Times. Satisfied that Hollywood had not strayed too much from the truth – except that Walt Disney never escorted Travers to Disneyland, nor bonded with her over their fathers, nor sweet-talked her through the rights to the story – and he conveniently omitted Jane and Michael’s younger siblings.
When I looked for the children’s books in our library system, I found a series and started with the first, appropriately named “Mary Poppins.” Each chapter offers another adventure – many mirrored by Julie Andrews in the Disney movie: Mary Poppins gliding up the bannister, Mary and Bert jumping into the chalk drawing for a wonderful adventure, Mary’s laughing uncle serving tea on the ceiling, the bird woman with her chant – “Feed the birds. Tuppence a bag.” Other adventures were new, but no less endearing and fun to read: the talking dog, the sauntering Red Cow who met the King who advised her to jump over the moon – and beautiful illustrations by Mary Shepard.
No singing in the book, and, of course, no animation of the talking animals, but sweet sayings that sounded familiar: “spit-spot, don’t dawdle, that is as it may be…” And, that good feeling from reading a lovely children’s story full of adventure and fantasy. Mary Poppins does leave in the end of this book, flying away under her umbrella, just as she does in the movie. But she comes back; Travers followed this first book with several more. Three are waiting for me at the library, and I can’t wait to read them.