I am officially a modern woman now. I own (and can actually operate!) a smart phone, I actually helped someone figure out how to connect their laptop to the wifi at Starbucks the other day (no matter that I was struggling to get my own to stay connected to said wifi), and I have read a whole entire book using an E-Reader, and my poor little purists heart didn’t even explode, it just melted a little bit around the edges.
I’m not going to lie, I did not go into this with a particularly open mind. It makes me mad that people are so willing to surrender all the solid aspects of life to technology. I refuse to abandon my beautiful paper-and-ink books for the same reason I still write snail mail letters, because it’s important for Something to still be real and concrete and meaningful beyond the now. But I have a confession: this whole e-book thing was not that bad.
I started by downloading and setting up iBooks, Nook, and Kindle, just to get a feel for each one and see how I liked them. I like the design of iBooks the best- it has what looks like a real bookshelf and the pages flip like book pages, but the Nook has the best interface. The Kindle is okay. I like its home page, but it’s actual reading interface has fewer options and seems stiffer.
And reading on my iPad? It was easy. I forgot that I was reading on a screen…almost. I was no less enthralled, and it wasn’t distracting at all, except when I kept accidentally flipping through multiple pages at a time, but that was most likely operator error. The only things that make me sad about e-books are:
1: It’s hard to tell how far you’ve read/ have left to go.
2: My thumbs get sore from the way I have to hold the tablet.
3: I can’t take pictures of book covers for my reviews on e-books.
4: There’s something wonderful about setting a finished book back on the shelf, spine creased and pages slightly dog-eared. I missed that, that physical sign of my accomplishment.
I think I will convert to maybe 25-30% e-books. And I will definitely be taking advantage of the free previews you can download of the first 30 pages or so of each book. I like being able to read a bit in advance and decide if I really want to pursue this book or not.
Which, speaking of pursuing books, I completed my first book of the year on Tuesday! And yes, it was of the electronic variety, Fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse was an unflinching look inside the unfamiliar, often bizarre world of Christian Science.
Growing up, Lucia’s parents were warm and loving, but their seeming idyllic life was not all it seemed. Christian Scientists do not believe that the material world is real, so in their minds sickness, disease, germs, and death don’t really exist. They deny all these things, from the blatantly obvious childhood chicken pox Lucia and her siblings suffer from to the more serious matters like cancer and heart attacks. They believe these things are caused by erroneous, negative thinking, and Lucia’s parents, who worked as a Christian Science practitioner (their equivalent of a faith healer) and nurse (who do not do any actual nursing duties, but rather fulfill the role of caretaker to the sick who come to the Christian Science nursing homes to ” work out their issues”), are no exception. They try to work out everything, from poor eyesight to Lou Gherig’s disease, with prayer and positive thinking, and without a single drop of conventional medicine.
As Lucia and her siblings grow up, they begin to see the inconsistencies of their parent’s faith, which causes a deep rift in the family. The tension culminates when the now grown Lucia realizes that their mother in desperately ill, but is refusing to accept any medical treatment. When she finally realizes that she is undeniably dying and relents to being taken to the hospital, she is malnourished almost to the point of starvation, and the family experiences much hostility from their non-Christian Science medical team and extended family, as well as incredible grief over her death at the young age of 50, which could have potentially been avoided.
In turns tragic and hopeful, informative and deeply felt, I very much recommend this book. I appreciated Lucia’s guts; she does not apologize for her parent’s dogma, her extended family’s bewilderment, or her own frustration and confusion. She offers it all up, raw and unedited, with the hope that her story can shed light on this seemingly benign but often inhumane and illogical belief system. Though it’s pages number into the three-hundreds, I read this fascinating account in just under three hours, and I dare say Lucia’s memoiring skills should be numbered among the greats, such as Jeannette Walls.
And now, friends, I’m off to drink some tea, delve into The Tiger’s Wife for the Huffington Post Book Club, and sleep. In that order.