Comfort is found in a stack of good books

By Kristen Tribe | Published Thursday, March 4, 2010

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Perhaps the only thing I like better than reading a good book is sharing it with others.

I started a book blog, “Shelf Space,” for the Messenger in October and have taken great delight in interacting with readers and generating “book talk.”

This column is an opportunity to further the conversation in newsprint.

When I was a kid and first learned to read, I couldn’t wait to share this newfound love with my little sister, Jennifer.

I didn’t really want to teach her to read. I wanted to read – to her.

I remember filling a blue duffel bag with books. I’d clear the shelves.

Then I would find Jennifer. I’d make her sit in my dad’s recliner, and I’d squeeze in beside her, the duffel bag just below our feet.

She would blindly pull books from the bag, and I would read them to her, one by one.

Of course, my plan was to read every book in the bag to her. We would usually make it through about five or six before she wriggled free.

I think this was the start of “my stack of books” – a stack I carried everywhere.

I guess back then it wasn’t always a stack but usually just whatever I was reading at the time.

I took books on vacation, lugged them to doctor’s visits and carried them between classrooms. And I still do.

Reading is comforting to me. If I have a bad day or am worried about something, I read and let the characters’ problems engulf me, washing away my own.

I love to watch the movement of my bookmark, closer and closer to the end, and I like the way it feels to turn a page, especially brown, brittle ones in aged volumes. I even like the smell of books: the scent of new paper in a recent purchase or the dusty smell when uncovering an old favorite.

The invention of electronic reading devices could eliminate “my stack of books,” but for all the reasons listed above, the e-reader is an anomaly to me.

It takes away the tactile pleasure of reading.

Friends tell me differently. They promise it’s not like reading on a computer screen. They also boast of having millions of books at their fingertips because in an instant they can purchase and download a book directly to their devices.

This I can appreciate, but I’m still not convinced I need an e-reader.

Check back with Bookends later this month as I develop a more informed opinion of electronic reading devices and compare some of the most popular, including Kindle, nook and the Sony Reader.

Kristen Tribe is assistant editor at the Wise County Messenger. Her blog, “Shelf Space,” can be found at, and you can e-mail her at

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