…a Story, and wood…does it get any better? From my heart to yours, I hope you all are enjoying a rich holiday season, filled with love, laughter, wonderment, and good books! The Los Angeles Times did an end of the year review on our entertainments – and I was especially enthralled with the end of the year review on books. David Ulin, a brilliant teacher, book critic, writer, and overall provocateur/thinker, wrote a beautiful essay on books and publishing that gives hope to us writers that the storm that has disrupted the publishing world is beginning to calm, as traditional publishing and the digital age begin to find their respective places at the table.
The great thing about the digital world is that it allows for diversity of voice, ensuring that we as readers will have a greater chance of encountering a writer that speaks to us on a personal level. Yes, it can be difficult to locate writers in the digital realm, unless you have previous knowledge of their name or the title of a specific book…or hours to simply peruse! But, we are still young in this territory and this can only improve as time goes by and ideas spread.
The other gem Ulin touched upon was the uptick in small local bookstores, which in my neighborhood alone, has seen two open in the past couple years! And this is fantastic, of course, for many reasons, but perhaps one of the best gifts this brings to a neighborhood is the allowance for community, a space that gives room for interaction with fellow book lovers, and neighbors. Ulin calls this “artisanal, slow reading…(or)a mechanism by which we are enlarged.” “Most readers want more than cheap books; we want conversation, community. I couldn’t agree more.
Recently, I wrote a post on the joy of “not much happening” in a story, where we are allowed an inside window into a life, and through this frame we come to better understand not only ourselves, but humanity on a larger, and more personal, scale. And this was reflected by Ulin also, as he wrote of “…why we read in the first place: not to be entertained or distracted but to be connected, to experience a world, a life, a set of emotions we might not otherwise get to know.” This fills me with hope, this desire to witness a life that is apart from ourselves…that I am not alone in this desire. And it also fills me with courage – the courage to continue digging into the inner world, as well as paying attention to how this plays out on the stage of living the day to day.
Reading, books, writing – this territory claims a much wider, deeper realm than simply entertainment…though I love to be entertained as much as the next guy! But – through this medium, we also have the opportunity to mine more deeply, to explore, to set out on a journey unknown to us and expand our horizons, our world view, our appreciation for those that differ from our own personal experience. We are given the opportunity to better understand ourselves and to find connections within the framework of this thing called the human experience. So this coming year – support your local bookstore, read your local writers…or any writer!, pick up a pen and write your own book, and then have your local bookstore stock it on their shelves! Reach out and make your community stronger…one book at a time. :)