Archive for May 8th, 2012

May 8th, 2012

Book Juggling in Mid-Air

I’m writing this at 37,000 feet (36,988 to be precise), presently somewhere over Iowa. Moments earlier, I downloaded volume one and two of the collected works of Ambrose Bierce from Project Guttenberg onto my iPad, thanks to the inflight wifi on Virgin Atlantic.

And you’re thinking: Ambrose Bierce? Yes. Reading a review of a new edition of his “Devil’s Dictionary” in The New York Review of Books convinced me that his stories from the Civil War sound like must-read material. Now I have them, and you can too. (I’ll let you know if the stories meet the hype.)

The thing is: I’m a book junkie. I am not entirely agnostic on the question of e-books versus the old-fashioned kind (though my views are, you might say, “evolving”), but I am certainly pragmatic. It will take me years, possibly decades, to approach the level of well-read-ness I would like. And much like the survivalist hoarders who build bunkers with freeze-dried food to last 99 years, one thing I am sure of is that I won’t run out of reading material in this lifetime. I am more than ok with that, and e-books may help with the “space permitting” portion of the equation.

Now I can read Bierce–literally, right now. If I like the stories, I may invest in a hard copy, the kind my children will be able to pick up and read for themselves in a few years, when iPads are gone and we are all on to the next big thing–which may or may not be better for books than the current set of e-readers.

UPDATE, somewhere over Wisconsin/Michigan: Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is an amazing short story. Totally captivating! Five stars! Read it–for free!