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No doubt you heard that a few weeks ago, Border’s Bookstore went into bankruptcy. I hadn’t had the delight of being in a Border’s for some years. I never found one in Connecticut nor have I found one in Iowa. No matter, they are gone now.

I, as I’ve spoken of before, have a love affair with books. I like to touch them, hold them, move their pages. I find joy in their makeup, their choice of papers and decoration. Most of all, of course, I love the wisdom I hope to find within them.

I don’t think any day was as grand to me when I was a college student than the day I went to the campus book store to buy text books for the upcoming quarter. I carried this pile home, and one by one examined them in detail, growing in excitement at the contents.

I have, amassed books wherever I lived in America. A goodly number of boxes will be accompanying us on our move to New Mexico in a year or so. I lend books rarely, since for some reason, people tend to “forget” to return them, and I, not wanting to be petty, mention the subject a couple of times, sigh, and realize that I have lost one of my children. Sometimes I replace them.

But bookstores, my favorite haunt, are going the way of the dinosaurs. It seems inevitable with iPads and Kindles and other sorts of electronic reading apparatus. And something good and wonderful will end. I recognize my own participation in this slaughter of the book seller. I confess that most of my books are bought from Amazon. This is simple finances. They are just cheaper since they added the “used” books sellers to their repertoire.

And I confess that I tended to haunt the environs of the bigger national bookstores rather than the local seller. These poor but wonderful folks have been virtually wiped out. They can’t carry the breadth and depth of choice that the major chains can or could. But even the big chains are dying.

I don’t like the idea of not having my book with me, there to touch, perhaps reread, but gaze upon with fondness. I like the idea of convenience in the e-reader, but I will lament the loss of my friends in my bookcases. No virtual bookcase can suffice.

For an article about this inevitable changing of the guard, read the TNR article here.

Goodness knows it’s easy to look upon the American landscape and find little that gives us hope for the future. We seem mired in a class war, largely pushed by the extreme right. Our state legislatures are busy with all manner of utterly silly and dangerous bills, having little if anything to do with the real issues that confront us. Our national politicians are comprised of mostly people unfit to collect our garbage.

It is easy to be pessimistic. Fareed Zakaria is one savvy political journalist. There is a link to his Time‘s essay, Are America’s Best Days Behind Us? in this Foreign Policy review of his essay. It’s well worth your time to read both.

Okay, just to return to some sense of reality. This just in: Sarah’s panting lap dogs (read fans) are planning a show of “how I hate, hate, hate, Obama”. How you say? Well, supposedly on Sunday and 4pm, if you hate Obama, you are to pull off to the side of the road, and honk your horn for a solid hour. Yep, this is the brainchild of some group called Stand Up for America. Yeah, I’d say America’s best days are far far behind it.

We hold the people of Japan and Libya in our prayers today, as well as the people of Wisconsin now facing life at the hands of a demagogue.

 

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