Nothing like holding a newspaper
by Rick Watson
Feb 06, 2011 | 2174 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rick Watson
Rick Watson
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Call me old fashion, but I like to read books, newspapers, and magazines. I’m not talking about reading on a computer screen or some new fangled electronic gadget but the real thing. I don’t think I’m in the minority here.

When I’m out of town and don’t have access to the Daily Mountain Eagle, I will call it up on my laptop computer and check the local headlines and obits, but when I’m home, I’m trotting down to the paper box at day break and fetching the paper.

I like the smell of ink and the feel of the newspaper in my hands. The crinkling sound it makes when you turn a page is oddly comforting to me.

No Sunday morning would be complete without a hot cup of coffee and the morning news – it’s one of life’s little pleasures. It wouldn’t be the same with an electronic gadget on my lap. Then there’s my wife. She loves reading the paper as much as I do. The way we handle it is she reads the headlines and the front section then passes it to me, and moves on to the next section. She’s a fast reader so the delay is tolerable.

If we were to read the paper on one of those gadgets, how would we divide it up? I can promise you there would be a hassle. I’d wind up in the doghouse ignorant of what’s going on that day in our community and the world.

Who knows what would happen if we spilled coffee on that contraption like we sometimes do with a newspaper. I don’t even want to talk about trying to cut out coupons.

An entire wall of our great-room has book shelves full of books of all kinds. We have the classics, like War and Peace, Catcher in the Rye, Atlas Shrugged, and works by Dickens, Shakespeare, Vonnegut, Frost and Twain. We also have shelves dedicated to gardening, philosophy, religion, geography, modern fiction, and self-help books.

Sometimes when I have writer’s block and need inspiration, I’ll go over and randomly pick a book from the shelf to read. Nine times out of ten, I’ll get an idea and the writer’s block blows away like dust in the wind — as the old song goes.

You can find a lot of good information on the Internet, but when I need inspiration, even a simple search on say Shakespeare the writer, will bring up Shakespeare fishing equipment and then my mind is off floating down the Warrior River in a boat, casting in the reeds for a trophy bass.

And if I ever glance at my email or Facebook, WOOSH! That’s the sound of a pound of sand passing through the hourglass of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is a vital tool in my line of work, but I’m just saying it provides too many distractions when I’m trying to focus. That’s not an issue with books.

Recently when I attended the Tallulah Bankhead Birthday Party at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center several people stopped me to say how much they enjoyed reading my column in the paper (Note to self, I need to ask the boss for a raise). During a conversation with two ladies there, one said she read the newspaper, but the other said she read my column online. Two people, with two preferences.

Amazon.com, the mammoth online book retailer reported late last year that for the first time in history, online Christmas sales surpassed physical books. I realize the popularity of electronic books, newspapers and magazines is growing exponentially.

There may come a time in the distant future where resources become scarce and the cost of handling physical books and papers is too high for publishers to make money, but until then, just leave me with my trusty newspapers and dusty old books with highlighted passages, and dog-eared pages.

If that makes me old fashion, then so be it — but I think I have a lot of company.