The one type of book that must be paper

Until my cells are digital, my mind will remain a glob of weighty mush needing pages off which to bounce. By: Lyn Lomasi

Textbooks. Anything I need to study, I need it to be on paper. I have to feel knowledge with fingers. Bend it, write on it, smell it, rewrite it, go back and forth between one island of a page to another.

Interacting with an e-book — trying to turn those passages of someone else’s knowledge into my own — is like listening to music underwater. Slow, distant, ineffective, confusing. For getting lost in a valley of fiction? No problem. But breaking light into a mystery? Give me pages, pen, light and hours hunched over a book with a weight proportional to its number of pages.

So Education Secretary Arne Duncan may say goodbye to textbooks, but that au revoir is not for me. Born too late, I suppose, despite the joy I find in wandering everywhere the Web allows.

When it comes to stopping and knowing, I need the thing containing the knowledge. Maybe it’s because that’s how I prepared for all those exams in high school and college. Or maybe the mind really is more than just a brain in your skull. Maybe it’s something found in your hands, your nose — those crude tools that give weight and scent to the ghosts of ideas made real, or more real, by being etched into things, just as thoughts find sharper shape when released in speech.

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