But these are all fairly superficial differences designed to attract a very privileged generation, of which I am, admittedly, raising three members (although I've tried to hammer the entitlement out of them as best I can). The biggest difference I noticed though, the one that is more than icing on a cake, is at the campus libraries and the school bookstores. Several college visits in and I have to admit that when we walk into one or the other of these places, I still look to see the books. And I am saddened by the obvious, gaping lack. Sure, there are still some here and there. But more often the libraries are full of computers and study areas and only a few lonely looking stacks. The bookstores are overrun with sweatshirts, yoga pants, and blankets, with but a mere corner devoted to actual books. And their absence makes my heart bleed for all the improvements that are so conspicuously much more valued than books. I recognize that we're visiting at a time of year when kids aren't buying course texts and so that's to account for some of it, that the bookstores have sent back the unsold books from first semester to make room for the upcoming texts for second semester. And I know that much of the information we used to look up in the library stacks is now found digitally on the ever ubiquitous computers. But I do still mourn. (I could mourn a little less if someone, somewhere could see fit to give me the gift of a card catalog of my very own because that's another thing I desperately miss. I am deadly serious, but I do digress.) Walking around with my son and seeing the amazing things ahead of him next year, including the food options, game rooms, suite living, and more, I half wish I could go back to college again myself. But in the same moment, I am glad that my long past college experience had books spilling out of it at every turn, from the library to the bookstore to the bowed shelves in my small non-private dorm room. His experience will undoubtedly be very different than mine, not least because he will avoid the English department like the plague. I have no worries that he'll get a good education, I wouldn't be writing tuitions checks if I did, but I am glad that if we isn't surrounded by books at school next year, he certainly will be whenever he comes home. He might have all the fast food and video games he wants at school, but he'll always get a taste of old school books at my house.
I've mostly been sunk in light reads and romances this week, what with contemplating the imminence of the first fledgling leaving the nest and all. I explored Nepal from the perspective of an American anthropologist interested in women's issues, a woman who also happened to be married to a Nepali man. I watched as a woman incapable of fidelity tried to decide if she could marry her unsuspecting fiancé. I faced a spoiled teenaged ghost who drove his now adult brother and a B and B owner into each other's lives. I had a front row seat as five single guests at a wedding brought their own dramas, imperfect lives, and often regrettable behaviour to the reception. And I was entertained as two former lovers battled over the phone sex empire that their beloved mutual friend left them in his will.
Where have your reading travels taken you this week?