Well, I did it. Been planning if for a while. But, today, it is a done deal. Miss Kathy has officially stepped into a Nook World of reading. I am compiling my “friend” list of invitee’s to my new library!
But, first – I must set up all the furniture before I can have anyone take up residence in my Nook World library. There are a number of e-readers on the market, but with the employee discount my husband has – working at Barnes and Noble – there was no other e-reader I had entertained other than the Nook. A Nook Color, at that. User friendly – with apps!
Ha! Don’t I sound like I really know what I’m talking about? I strategically planned to purchase my Nook at the end of the school year so I would have the whole summer to figure out all the in’s and out’s of using it, and perfect my “fingering” techniques to make it work. Once school starts up again in September, leisure time for such things will be limited – and I’ll want to have a plan for making it a useful classroom tool, too.
Nook & Nightmare
Now, having done my homework with online tutorials prior to my purchase, and taking a fair amount of the sales clerk’s time to give me a private lesson in using one this morning, I felt relatively confident to log on, register, and start my download of some of the classic works and then some I’d listed as “must have friends” living in my new library. So, it came as quite a disappointment that a little padlock icon on my WiFi at home set-up is in the way of actually downloading anything. Calls to support on two fronts come up dry. It would appear that every other e-reader out there is downloading without issue from their home router – except me.
Currently, I am charging the instrument, and considering my next move to making this thing actually useful. I’m sure it’s a simple fix. But, of course, this is why I gave myself plenty of time to learn the “nooks” and crannies of functioning in the Nook World.
The Nook Look
So, as I wait to “try again” – I meditate on the accessory cover I also purchased to house my Nook. The cover of choice – the perfect Nook Look – was a difficult decision to make. I had any number of covers scattered about the floor in the store. Opening them to touch and feel their worth. Genuine leather, faux suede feel, hardboard – and in a variety of color options: conservative black, brown, burgundy, and blue, in addition to bright pink, lime green, and aqua blue/teal. Some snapped closed. Some flapped closed. Some had no additional closure at all. One of them doubled as a stand-up easel. Nifty!
But, I like words. So, I settled on a spring green soft-touch cover with a quote inscribed on it: “Choose an author as you choose a friend.” by Sir Christopher Wren – the fellow who designed some of the most magnificent architectural masterpieces of the Regency era in England – Jane Austen’s time.
Jane – though she and I are separated by two hundred years – is a friend. It amazes me how so many women of diverse worldviews and mindsets have adopted Jane as their own. Even so, she is first on my list to be invited into my Nook World. I shall have her to tea along with the works of Victorian novelist, Marianne Evans – know better to the literary world as, George Eliot. Phoebe Palmer, another Victorian and fiery Christian writer – though little known today – is also to be on the guest list, along with cheerful Beatrix Potter – her works and subsequent biographies. Not to leave out the gentlemen, Charlie Dickens, Artie Doyle, Georgie MacDonald, Louie Carroll, and that wit of the party himself, old G. K. of Chesterton fame will each have a shelf to call their own. And, let us not forget our 20th century classic masters, Tolkein and Lewis – both of whom I shall place near Mr. MacDonald – the man they consider to be their writing mentor from an earlier age.
I do think of these classic authors – and many more – those whose works I most cherish – as friends. Through my years of reading, they have been carefully selected – as Sir Christopher notes – as ought to be the way when opening oneself to the pathways of “friendship”.
Anne Shirley’s “Kindred Spirits”
To choose a friend, one seeks those of like mindedness – those who, because of similar interests and views – would affirm one’s own nature, interests, and views. Lucy Maud Montgomery (she’s being invited, too) expressed the joy of finding just such a friend through her celebrated Anne Shirley in the Anne of Green Gables series. Loosely based on her own life growing up on Prince Edward Island, Lucy’s captivating heroine, Anne yearns for – “a bosom friend” – ever on the lookout for those who might possess a “kindred spirit” of oneness in heart with her. When she found such a friend in Diana, she emptied herself, her secrets and innermost being – desiring to know and to be known. Often, when we read, we seek a sympathetic character in the story with whom we can identify as somewhat kindred in spirit. We cheer on this character and hope all turns out for the best. A good story and well crafted character will draw us in and connect us to it – we participate in the story as the character. In so doing, we give the author tremendous power over us.
Warning: Carefully choose the characters you relate to, but moreso – carefully choose the authors you allow to have so much persuasive power over mind and heart. Are they worthy friends?
Jane’s Three Little Questions
Jane Austen sought a “kindred spirit” for her heroines in each of her novels about finding true love and marriage in an age when more than not, women settled for security. Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice would never settle. Enter Mr. Darcy and the rest is literary history. I loved the oft repeated questions Jane’s characters would ask in determining the worth of a potential husband and best friend:
1. Is he a man of good fortune? Can he financially support a wife?
2. Is he a man of information? Does he have a brain and sensible conversation?
3. Is he agreeable? Does he have looks, personality, and an even temper?
Quite a high standard Miss Austen sets here for determining the worth of a future husband – and best friend. But, this standard is re-iterated again and again in each of her novels as if she were trying to impress upon the female of her age and time that giving the whole of mind, body, and spirit over to anyone less worthy was to disdain the dignity of one’s own unique womanhood. In her stories, we see the sorry end of those women who did not follow her advice, and the joyful bliss of those who did. Fiction, you might say – and yet, the decline of female dignity and uniqueness – that has reached a boiling point in this 21st century with so much more given to sensationalistic impulses rather than plumblines measuring right and worth – prove Jane’s suppositions in her stories everyday.
As Plato Puts It
A friend must be worthy of trust. Quality character traits should mark those most worthy of friendship. The end result of all things is good and beauty – as Plato puts it:
“It is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts . . . then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty . . .” Plato’s Republic
Ancient storytellers were the second most important member of a clan or tribe because they – the authors of the day, the custodians of great oral libraries – they held the stories and histories of their people and the knowledge of all those things that would shape and form the minds and spirit of their people for generations. If such a one spoke (wrote) of the lesser elements, befriending his hearers (readers) – and said hearers (readers) allowed themselves a kindred relationship to the aforementioned spoken (written) words – to what end might the character of such an individual be shaped – and thereby – eventually the character of a people – a society?
I Said All That to Say This
My Nook World has the ability to be filled with thousands of words written by a plethora of individuals living these past thousands of years – each embracing any number of qualities – good, bad, ugly, better, best. What is the plumbline I am going to use to judge the worth of the “friends” I welcome into my Nook World? What is the standard of thought with which I would consider trusting my mind to – with whom will I allow myself to sympathize? Well, I can invite into my Nook World the very plumbline of which I speak.
Unashamed, I hold to the truths it teaches me – leading me into realms of all “good things and beauty.” It is within its pages that I meet Jesus Christ – a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” – He who is the love of my soul – the ultimate “kindred spirit” – so much so that He bore my sin and pain in this life on the cross at Calvary – dying in my place (awesome Hero, that) and then, rising to take me up with Him in His new life for all eternity. Sounds like a good plot for a novel, I know. But, I mean, it IS the greatest story ever told! Non-fiction, in fact! The Bible gives us the blueprint for Anne Shirley’s “kindred spirit” and can answer “Yes!” to Jane’s three little questions. Trustworthy. When my character is formed by its Word, I can confidently fill my Nook World shelves with like “kindred spirits” and never exhaust the fellowship of such.
So, after a Bible – or two or three – my friend Jane will be first to cross the threshold of my Nook World making her home – with my other invited “friends” between the spring green covers with Sir Christopher’s admonishment – presupposing wisdom – to “choose an author as you choose a friend.”
Now, off to fix the techno-WiFi glitch and then – I got company coming!!