Kindles are better

A couple came in, and he said to me, ‘But don’t you think Kindles are better? This is what I do. I go to the shop, see the book, look it up and download. See?’

 He raised both hands in the air to show me how simple it is. ‘See?’ His wife looked at me and said nothing. He shrugged his shoulders up and down to show us easiness and simplicity.

He went on talking about kindles. His wife moved over to Art and knelt down to read. He walked around, relaxed, commenting here and there. He showed me a book (Sherlock Holmes) and said, ‘Look at this.’

I looked at it, and he said, ‘Would anyone want this?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’

He nodded, ‘Ok.’ Then he said, ‘I like to read but I want to save space. See?’

I did.

Then I said that I liked kindles, I admitted to using the kindle ap, which delivered me recently a rich and full copy of Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan. When choosing buses and bus routes, I search for the longest slowest path to the city so I can be with Isabella and see how she recruited her health in Japan. After all, I may need to do this too. Anything that delivers literature, I want. I want a kindle.

He was polite, ‘That’s good. But what I do is…..’ He told me some more incredible things.

Then his wife came back with an enormous pile of art books, and said, ‘Here, get these,’ and he quickly pulled out his wallet and paid for all of them; it was a considerable pile, high and aching.

The Letters of the Great Artists, heavy and boxy and seductive, was on the top of the stack. It took up a lot of valuable space in the world. In it, Claude Monet complains (in a letter) of old age. He slashes a canvas because he cannot reach the high notes of the colours he needs to reach. The book is a deep scornful red with thick cream pages done by Thames and Hudson (with 150 plates, 51 in colour) and a delicious bitter coffee stain stamped on the satisfying last page, As usual, I look at the buyer darkly. Maybe I should have kept it for myself. I am likely to never see another copy. I slash at my canvas because I cannot reach all the books I need to hold.

She marched out with her books, and he followed, checking his phone for reasons to feel better.

What are you reading now?

the shopleejungho-7-57cd88ac810a5__880

A child of about 12 visited the shop and asked me: What are you reading now? What’s that book? I showed her The Wide Sargasso Sea, I was reading it again.

She is happy with this news.

She says: Well, I just love John Flanagan because I just love him. I have read all the books twice and some three times. I have all the books twice, including the Brotherbands. But first of all I heard them all because my mum read them to me first. She read out each one. Each night she read some of one to me.

She pushes both hands together, as if in prayer and tells me the titles of the first twelve volumes and which one was the best one (volume seven: Erak’s Ransome). She has not chosen any books to buy because she only reads books by John Flanagan and she already has them all. As she leaves with her family she tells me that she might read something else one day but also maybe not.

Artwork by Lee Jungho