THE BOOK BATTLE

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

MCC library

Wright’s Great Library

One of the best jobs I ever held was as a tour guide at the Marin County Civic Center back in the mid-1960’s.  The iconic building was the last of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces.  In fact, when I worked there only the Administration building was completed but we were awed by the scale model of what was to come – a judicial wing, an arts building and a heliport (which was never built).  Still, as I led tour after tour on the weekends my appreciation for his architecture grew.  In my opinion, no part of the building was more stunning than the library, with its rounded ceiling and open spaces.  I was fortunate enough to develop a love of books from a grammar school teacher who spent a whole year teaching us how to read a book.  She introduced me to Nancy Drew, Tom Sawyer and Louisa May Alcott.  So, oftentimes on the weekend when my fellow tour guide and I didn’t feel like leading a tour, we’d put a sign on the desk saying we were out touring and would return in 30 minutes.  And then we would sneak off to the library.

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Part of my beloved library

Over the years, whether I was in a studio apartment or a larger home, I always maintained a library.  To this day I have some of my college textbooks, which come in handy when I want to learn something about ancient history!  In my current house we converted what the architect considered a necessity, a fourth bathroom, into something I considered an absolute must – a library.  I even organized it by subject matter and author.  I know, I’m a geek.  So, when the eBook revolution came about I was one of those who swore I would never convert.  I scoffed at those who jumped on the bandwagon, even as I lugged my huge canvas bag of books on every vacation.  I think it was on one of those trips when my husband commented about the “rock collection” I’d brought along, that I began considering an eReader.  In 2010 I relented and bought my first Kindle.  I’m now on my fourth.  I love that I can store hundreds of books, that I can read at night with the light off so as not to bother my husband or Dash the Wonder Dog, and it has kept me amused as I’ve waited at doctor’s offices, airports and the DMV.

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There’s room for both!

So it was with some interest that I read an article in Inc. Magazine recently noting that according to The Wall Street Journal, sales of traditional print books rose by 5 percent in the US last year, while sales of eBooks plunged by 17 percent.  No one knows exactly why that happened or if it’s a lasting trend.  They do cite two very good reasons for the switch.  First, real books can be shared.  Remember the days when we paid $20 for a book and then passed it around to 10 friends?  Now everyone has to pay around $13 for their own download.  The second reason they cited is that real books make more meaningful gifts.  I couldn’t agree more.  I still remember who gave me books as gifts and the sentiment behind the purchase.  I also love a hardcover when I’m reading one of my historical biographies with a complicated family tree illustration just so I can easily flip to the chart when I can’t remember who’s married to whom.

Those are indeed good reasons to buy a real book, but last night I discovered perhaps the best reason.  A week ago my daily email from Kindle advertised a novel about women in WWII.  Always a sucker for a good war book, I decided to download it.  Amazon informed that I already owned it.  So I went to my archives and, indeed, I bought it in 2013.  I downloaded it to my current device and began reading.  It wasn’t until last night, one third through the book, that I realized I’ve read it before.  Hey, I’m not beating myself up.  I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, much less a book I read six years ago.  But thinking about this post today I realized that perhaps the best reason for a real book is that after you’ve read it there are creases in the spine or perhaps a dog-eared page or two, alerting you that you’ve been down that path before.  On the upside, re-reading a good book is kind of like meeting an old friend.  I guess there are benefits to losing your memory!

New Year, New Adventures

by Bob Sparrow

Cinque a Terre, Italy

I feel very fortunate that I have the wherewithal, time and health that allows me a good deal of travel. I was just reviewing my travels for the past year and realized that aside from annual trips to our timeshare in Palms Desert and to our Cinco de Mayo golf tournament in Las Vegas, last year, I was able to go crazy in Nashville, visit the crazies in Washington D.C., with a side trip to Gettysburg, feel crazy on wine trips to Paso Robles and Napa/Sonoma, play golf (or a vague facsimile there of) in beautiful Banff, Canada, although it wasn’t so beautiful due to the smoke that filled the sky from multiple forest fire throughout British Columbia and Alberta. We also took a trip in time as we traveled back to the ‘50s on our trip to Minnesota for Linda’s 50th high school class reunion, with the Mabel-Hesper Steam Engine Days parade thrown in as a bonus. On our trip to Laughlin, Nevada, my brother, Jack and I saw the creation, and the subsequent filing for bankruptcy of, ‘The Sparrow Brothers School of Fine Football Forecasting’. The year’s traveling ended with a visit to Seattle to attend our good friends, the Johnson’s son’s wedding. I should also include our trip to the famous restaurant, Dan Tana’s as any trip to L.A. is always an adventure.

And you got to come along on all those adventures, but I can already hear you asking, “What have you done for me lately – where are we going this year?” Well, I think you’ll like the itinerary we have planned for you as I start the year off with a trip to a familiar haunt, Lake Tahoe. We’ll be attending another friend’s son’s wedding at the Inn at Squaw Creek in Squaw Valley . . . in January . . . outside! Hope I can type with mittens on. While there, we’ll take some time to visit Mom & Dad’s final resting place overlooking ‘The Lake’.  In the spring I’ll be heading out to one of my favorite locations, Death Valley with some hiking buddies – hope we keep the death out of Death Valley. At the beginning of summer we have an Adriatic cruise planned that will afford us visits to Italy, Greece, Croatia and some other places missing some vowels that I can’t pronounce much less spell. In September we’re back in Italy, staying in Tuscany and taking day trips to the surrounding environs before heading to Cinque a Terre – those picturesque fishing villages hanging off Italy’s Mediterranean coast, which have been on my bucket list for some time – I hope I remember to come home.

I lay this itinerary out so that if anyone who’s been to any of the aforementioned destinations has some travel tips – I’m all ears.

I’m not sure where Suzanne’s travel will take her this year, but you can count on us to fill your every Monday morning with some travel highlights, some life observations, some tributes as well as some stuff you can just delete as spam.

Thank you for your readership and we hope your 2019 is adventurous . . . in a good way.