One of the best and worst things that happened to me in 2012 was that I broke my Kindle.
I am both a voracious reader and a broke paycheck-to-paycheck schmuck. It isn’t hard to understand why I’d put the death of my beloved E-reader on the “worst” list. But best? Let me explain.
I have a borderline psychotic fear of debt. I hate the idea of owing money it will take me forever to pay back. So although I have credit cards, I only pull them out in true emergencies. As sad as it made me to see my little porthole into the world of new authors sit broken and lonely, I couldn’t call my new Kindle-less state an emergency. Instead, I started feeding my need to read by going to the library.
Here’s where the “best” part comes in. I prefer my e-reader because there’s simply more options to choose from than what sits on the shelves of the little local library near my home. Going there brings back happy memories of Saturday afternoons with my butt plopped somewhere in the children’s section, picking out a Laura Ingalls Wilder book while Mom hunted down her next Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Even so, if given a choice, I’d have a new Kindle sitting on my coffee table.
But on my first visit to the library, I noticed a single shelf dedicated to large print books, and I almost did a happy dance. My grandmother is at a place in her life where she has trouble filling long and lonely days. Her mobility is limited, and most of her friends live far away or are in poor health themselves. We’re always trying to come up with things for her to do other than watch TV. For a while, my sister and niece got her hooked on Angry Birds. She used to be a major crafter, quilting and making terrariums. She went through a “puffy sequined sweatshirt” phase that had us all cringing a little at Christmas. My sister recently tried picking her up some craft materials, but she said she could no longer see well enough to do them.
I suggested reading, and got the same response. Truthfully, the only things I’d ever seen my grandmother read were magazines and clothing catalogs. Still, I gave it a shot, and my suggestion was shot down just like all the others we’d thrown at her.
But that day in the library, I felt a spark of hope. Regular books probably were too hard on her eyes. But these big print suckers? Why hadn’t I thought of that before?
I told her about the big print books and asked her if she’d give them a try. She said she would, in that “I’m just humoring you” kind of way. I asked her what kind of books she thought she’d like.
She said “Love stories. But without a lot of sex in them.”
I gulped as I left her house and headed for the library. Love stories without a lot of sex in them? Was there such a thing?
I’m not much of a romance reader myself. But I have friends who are, and we sometimes spend summer days off lounging together at the pool. I’ll be sitting there with my next creeperific ghost story or bit of raunchy sophomoric humor or serial killer extravaganza, and I’ll glance over at my friends’ bodice-ripper and ask about it.
“Girl porn,” she’ll reply with a grin.
So I felt a little lost as I scoured the big print shelf in search of G (for Grandma) rated love stories. After a bit of browsing, I stumbled on an Amish romance.
Amish romance? That had to be pretty tame, right? I took it home to her, and she loved it. So I began grabbing a few more every time I went. Frankly, I was amazed that there were so many Amish romances to choose from. I became familiar with writers like Sarah Price and Barbara Cameron, and learned about a whole new realm in fiction.
That was months ago, and Grandmom has since branched out quite a bit. She’s delved into mysteries and dramas. She’s discovered she really likes Jodi Piccoult. She’s even given Stephen King a try. Sometimes, she plows through her books long before I get through mine.
Even so, I was completely unprepared for what happened the other day. On a Saturday afternoon, I had lunch with my grandmother and then gathered up our books. The library is a short walk from her house, and in a park, so these trips are also a great chance for a little outdoor exercise. I had stuffed our to-be-returned books in my bag and was heading for the door when she called out to me.
“Yeah, Mommom?” I asked, my hand on the doorknob.
“See if you see that ’50 Shades’ thing while you’re there. If you do, get me that one.”
It was only the fact that my bag’s strap was wound pretty firmly on my arm that kept the books from thumping to the floor. From Amish romance to Fifty Shades? From “love stories with no sex in them” to the book that spiked dildo sales off the charts? I haven’t read the series, but again, I have friends who have. Some say it was stupid. Some say it made them forcefully drag their spouses to the bedroom, and in a few cases the spouses have confirmed that with great big grins.
“Mommom,” I sputtered. “You know those books have a LOT of sex, right?”
“I’ve heard. I wanna see what all the fuss is about.”
“I mean, LOTS of sex,” I floundered. “With like, pearl necklaces and stuff.”
She pondered this, but still seemed curious.
As it turns out, the library doesn’t carry a big print version of Fifty Shades. Maybe we’ll order her the first one from Amazon and go from there if she likes it.
Grandmom has come a long way from reading nothing but catalogs, and all because I broke my Kindle.