Sunday, October 31, 2010

Think About Books

I love books. I love the feel of one in my hands. I love to touch and smell each page as I read. I fold over the corners of the pages when there's something I want to come back to. I often make notes in the margins and underline important or interesting points. Inevitably, I also correct typos or grammatical errors that I find.

Digital society, though, is trying to make the book as I know and love it disappear. Kindle, the Nook, CafeScribe, and other digital platforms threaten independent bookstores. But, I'm not interested in talking about the business aspect of this subject. Instead, I wish to wax nostalgic about the way a book's pages yellow and crinkle with time; about how I can fall asleep reading and wake up on top of the book, its cover bent or torn; about how I can spill a few drops of my soy pumpkin spice latte on a page and know that the stain will be there for the life of the book; and about how I can look at a unique price ticket on a book and remember where I was when I bought it and, maybe, even why.

A book can create stories and moments other than the one its words tell.

I once knew of a person who started to read the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. When he realized that the book wasn't actually about motorcycle maintenance, he threw it across the room. How many people will do that with their digital books?

Think about it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Think About Stuff

Welcome to my blog! (This is my first post, so bear with me....)

So, it's a dreary Monday in Toledo, Ohio; it seems like Mondays are always dreary here. It's a gray place to live, although it has some sunny moments. More often than not, though, I have to create my own sunny moments. So, I delve into the activities that excite me--writing, reading, and thinking. Reading leads to thinking; thinking leads to writing. Last year, while finishing up my Bachelor's degree, I read a lot of fascinating and inspiring books that led me to a lot of thinking...about stuff.

The most influential book I read on this topic was Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire by William T. Cavanaugh. A scholarly book, it is certainly not a quick and easy read. However, since I've read it, I now think about what I am buying, where it comes from, and why I'm buying it. I think about the reasons of why we as a society are compelled to buy.

Cavanaugh's book led me to change my buying habits, but it wasn't enough. I wanted more simplicity. So, I read the book The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life by Leo Babauta. This book offered me suggestions on how and why to get rid of stuff and how to organize the stuff I keep. This is no easy task, I assure you! Knowing, though, that others can use what I may not have used for several years gives me a peaceful feeling, as though I'm doing right for the world, for once.

I made several hauls to Goodwill. I still have a ways to go, but I feel much lighter (less clutter around the house equals less clutter in my mind) already.

Here's my final thought (for today) about stuff and consumerism and, possibly, a "call to action" (if you choose to accept...!): The day that seems to mark the beginning of the Christmas season is known as Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). What I did last year and what I will do again this year is to use that day to do the opposite of what the general American society does (anti-spending): take donations of all kinds to places that will happily accept them. Can I make this a movement? Probably not. And certainly not on my own. What will you do on Black Friday?

Look at your stuff; ask yourself what it means to you. Think about stuff; ask yourself if you need to keep it. You might find yourself feeling a little lighter, maybe a little sunnier, even if you live in a gray town.

Let me know your thoughts about stuff; let's get a conversation going!

In the meantime, check out this link: .