That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Paper boats in a digital sea

Post by Karen Charlton

Hamish is in my office, discovering all these books I’d forgotten I had. Rupert Bear: a Noddy book that belonged to my mum which is sadly beyond repair (not bad for 60 years old): Heart in a Bottle: All Through The Year. I keep some of my favourite children’s books in my office, next to all my other books, the ones without pictures.

Kids will do that to you. Just when you think all the books are tidy and in their rightful place on the shelf, they go and pull them out and read them and toss them and use them as boats and hats and frisbees. But mostly, they move them from one place to another, and each time they are moved, you discover something that you’ve never seen before.

This week we discovered ‘old book smell’. Hamish is enamored.

OOOoooh. I lub it,” he said. I offered him a new ‘old book’ (a reprint of a Noddy book) and he dismissed it with a curt “Meh …”

Hamish is too young to compare it, but the smell of old books reminds me so much of paper money. And paper money reminds me of the old post office in Main Street, with its timber sorting boxes mounted on the wall, and the rattan ceiling fan that did its rounds all through the year, not just in the summer heat. The sound of clanging stamps, the tinkling of coins and the thud of canvas mail bags being thrown to the floor, the sound of thoughts articulated and sent across the world.

In many ways, books are otherworldly. They are entire worlds, the book being both boat and map to take you to those places that exist only in our minds.

It’s been a few months since I’ve read so much as a newspaper, what with family, work, school and secret Santa business. I feel pixelated and vague, drowning in a digital sea. What I need is a paper boat to sail me to more solid shores.

Hello! Welcome to your new year. How are you going to spend it?

8 Responses to “Paper boats in a digital sea”

  1. Torre

    My Kindle broke and I’ve been reading any paperback I can find in Thailand. It has been fantastic. So far, I’ve read A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Imperfectionists, and Of Mice and Men. I’m not looking forward to getting a new digital reader. I’ll miss the papery smell.

  2. Gill

    Hamish is an explorer! I love that boats take you somewhere but that they are also good for just bobbing about in the water, waiting to see what floats by. Unfortunately December does not always provide the time and space to just “bob” but I hope that January allows you to spread out your paper boat and explore.

    “Where the wild things are” is one of my favorite books but the old worn original copy in the local library reads even better than our home reprinted copy. It’s because I “lub” that old book smell too.

  3. debbrightandprecious

    I need a paper boat too. I hear you. Digital has its place – and is so convenient for some things. But like you I’m feeling pixelated and vague! I just bought myself a good book (real paper one) last week. Just getting my teeth into it now. Loving it.

  4. gabrielablandy

    Just thought I’d dip into your blog today and really enjoyed finding this post. I got a Kindle for Christmas and while I enjoy the ease of reading on it – I still have to buy myself the real thing. ‘They are entire worlds, the book being both boat and map to take you to those places that exist only in our minds.’ Lovely!


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