(M) Are you a paper or electronic reader? While I immensely enjoy the texture and smell of a “real” book, the extra baggage charges I incur due to the weight of my tomes has convinced me to use my Kindle while on vacation (though I do get really miffed when I’m forced to “power down” and I’m left with nothing to read but SkyMall magazine. And seriously, am I really to believe that my little Kindle could interfere with the plane’s GPS system?). The good and bad part about electronic readers is how simple it is to order books. Previously, I filed away my favorite book reviews and when I was ready, I’d grab one or two and head to the nearest bookstore. Now, if a book sounds even remotely interesting, I download it to my Kindle in a nanosecond. This indiscriminate ordering caused my first really indecent e-reader moment. Before going away, I’d downloaded four books that had been voted Best Erotica of the year, along with a host of other books. A week later, I was poolside in Mexico when I ran into an old boyfriend and his wife, neither of whom I’d seen in 25 years. Kindles had only recently hit the market, so they asked to see mine. When they simultaneously turned pale and quickly handed it back to me, I realized that the first books listed had rather spicy titles.
(J) Well, to be quite honest I prefer paper books, but because my eyesight has begun to fade away like a dazzling sunset (I am still grieving its departure), I’ve started reading on electronic devices, like the Kindle. It was a truly thrilling moment when I realized that I could increase the font size. And to be able to carry around hundreds of books, literally in my back pocket, is not only convenient but an advance in technology that is beyond my scope of understanding. I still look at it in amazement. I’m currently reading Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.” Besides feeling remiss in having passed it up for all of these years, I really wanted to know what that white whale had “going on,” getting all those swarthy sailors to chase after it so enthusiastically. “Call me Ishmael” – or you can just text me.
(M) I recently heard a joke about a man telling another man that he’d recently taken a speed-reading course and had read “Moby Dick” in under an hour. The other man asked what the book was about and he replied, “a whale.” Speed-reading is what it would take for me to finish all the books I own before I expire. At any one time, I’m simultaneously reading four to six books. Currently, I’m listening to “Steve Jobs” in my car; on my Kindle, I’m reading “Inside of a Dog” (hint: you aren’t the alpha dog, you‘re simply the food supplier and pass on those dog DNA test kits because they’re a rip-off); and beside my bed I have “Travels with Epicurus, A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life.” Epicurus, who was far from a gourmand (he actually preferred plain, boiled lentils), believed “It is impossible to live wisely and well and justly without living a pleasant life.” I absolutely love this small gem of a book that so wisely considers what later life should look like. (Hint: Rather than run from the natural aging process, embrace it.)
(J) I’ve actually been reading quite a bit of poetry lately and loving it. Not only is it an exercise in acuity (at times you feel like you are trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube), but an extremely stimulating one as well. For example, here’s the beginning of the great William Carlos Williams’ “Young Sycamore”:
“ I must tell you, this young tree, whose round and firm trunk, between the wet, pavement and the gutter, where water is trickling, rises bodily into the air with, one undulant thrust…”
I say, who needs “Fifty Shades of Grey” when you have titillating, engaging and sensual literature like that.
(M) You’re my new favorite poet. I’m savoring your “Poetry in Motion” album. It’s an amazing collaboration.
- Cross-country skiing – let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. (M)
- Hot toddies, hot fires and hot poetry to read, while in front of the fire. (J)
- Ice – As a kid I loved skidding across any patch of ice I could find, and now I’m scared to death of the stuff. (M)
- Snuggies – Those things are so itchy, thin and not snuggy. Talk about false advertising. (J)
Email Class&Sass at MarthaandJen@wagmag.com. You may also follow Martha and Jen on Facebook, at WAG classandsass or access all of their conversations online at wagmag.com.