Monday, April 29, 2013

The Books Win Again

It is very hard for me to believe books will go the way of the dinosaurs.

This past weekend was the annual Greater St. Louis Book Fair, held in the parking lot of Macy's in the West County Mall.  This year, like other years, people lined up, skating in and out of the black rubber lanes, waiting for the opening of the event.  Like other years, people had the option of paying on Thursday to enter that evening for a chance to view the rare and collectible volumes.

It was a bibliophiles dream!  There were tables and tables, rows and row or books, and people of all sizes, shapes, colors, ages, income, education, and employment levels snaking in and out of the rows of books.  To a person, they all carried a bag, pushed a shopping cart, some with suitcases, others with storage tubs, all carefully examining the volumes before them, picking them up, turning them over, opening to pages, standing and reading.

This annual event in Des Peres is matched with a few other annual events that all make me think the mind will be just fine in St. Louis.

Kirkwood Public Library rented out old retail space and set up their book sale, pretty much in the same fashion, although, without the shopping carts.  Their event was warm, inside, well light, and filled with volumes the library was selling to make room for more books.

Webster Groves Public Library also did the same thing, although, I never made it that far, just ran out of time.

The annual Robotics Convention was also in St. Louis. The Americas Center and the Edward Jones Dome was swarming with funny hats, caps, safety goggles, and pins galore as the elementary-to-high school students hustled from challenge-to-challenge in this Olympiad-of-the-Mind.  There was a mini United Nations in the scholarship and expo area with nations as far from St. Louis as India, Chile, Australia, England, and New Zealand sharing a bit of their culture amidst the universal love of those colorful building blocks.

St. Louis was a buzz of creative thought and mental stimulation this weekend.  We took in as much as we could, filling up a tub of books on the $5 and 1/2 price days of the book fairs, after I had already curated several wonderful finds on Friday.  This was too good to not go back for another day.  My husband and daughters each greedily scooped up their favorites, like a kid in a candy store.  We spent the entire day in the warmth of books as the outside temperature kept deciding if it was winter or spring and the clouds kept deciding if it was going to be a drip drop or torrential downpour.

The day ended for us at home with books spread out on the sitting room floor.  Our home is already filled with volumes literally on all three levels and in every room (yes, even the bathroom has a cache of reading materials for those who like to spend time on the throne).  We read in our home, sometimes two or three books at a time.

I smiled as I watched the girls decide which they wanted to read first and remembered my husband tucking away in a corner of The Chess Club to read while the girls were engaged in intellectual battle during the Kirkwood Chess Tournament.

Weekends like this one we just had are why my daughters read well above grade level, why they are so well spoken and thoughtful, intellectually curious, and eager to absorb information.  Weekends like this past one are confirmation to me that while my Kindle Fire is a handy little took that I check when I am out or when I do not want to take my laptop with me, it is still the touch and feel of a real book that will continue to thrive.

Books, all shapes and sizes, the trade paper and hardbacks, the colorful children's books and the delightful YA tomes all stand to let us know that there are plenty of people around who love to turn the pages.  Amazon may appear to be the giant, but it is the real book that wins.

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