Book Readers Realized You Can’t Replace the Feeling of Turning a Real Page | Tim Adams

In 2009, when Amazon’s Kindle e-book was launched in the UK, it seemed impossible to imagine that a dozen years later booksellers would have a record year of paperback and book sales. connected. Despite bookstores being closed for three months at the start of 2021, figures show the rejuvenation of print has accelerated.

This trend undermines tech companies’ alluring promises that apps and platforms will always and inevitably eclipse physical objects. The unexpected triumph of print books – in part due to their improved design values ​​- proves that not all upgrades represent progress.

As the great mathematician Tom Waits once told me, “If I want to walk in the desert and heat a can of beans over a fire, I always can.” In movies like Gattaca, space age stuff is still all there is. But in the world, there is never only one way to live. It’s more like a big heist. In other words: I’m not afraid of ending up on a space station in aluminum underwear.

Seduced by the mud

Merlin Sheldrake: “Nature is an event that never stops. Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images for BoF VOICES

Among the most surprising books currently on bestseller lists are those devoted to the biography of the ground beneath our feet. The bewitching of Merlin Sheldrake Tangled life, his quest in the subterranean kingdom of mushrooms, started this trend. I was then hooked on Susanne Wedlich’s discovery of 3 billion years of Vase and the cultural history of Robin Wall Kimmerer, Picking mosses. If these books share a common thread, it is that life is fundamentally cooperation; its principle “we”, not “I”. As the magic-named Sheldrake puts it: “A mycelial web is a helpful reminder that all life forms are processes, not things. The “you” of five years ago was made of a different material than the “you” of today. Nature is an event that never stops.

legal aid

Jolyon Maugham
Jolyon Maugham’s latest High Court victory has proven the illegality of the government’s ‘VIP route’. Photography: Jean-Francois Pelletier/Alamy

The British have a hard time taking lawyers to heart. An exception could however be made for Jolyon Maugham and his Good Law Project.

On a busy news day last Wednesday, with the rival shame of the Prime Minister and Prince Andrew dominating the headlines, Maugham’s latest victory in the High Court proved the illegality of the government’s ‘VIP route’ for the purchase of PPE, has been relegated to the bottom of the page. However, as full details of the billions squandered in the chaotic early response to the pandemic emerge, it may well prove the story that most defines Johnsonism’s core belief – that laws are for other people.

old haunts

Jan Morris at home in Wales
Jan Morris at home in Wales: “It’s been fun!” Photography: Antonio Olmos / The Observer

My journalistic highlight of the past two years has been visiting Jan Morris, 93, at her home in North Wales. Morris, the most mercurial of spirits, was full of a powerful foreboding both of his mortality and of what might come next. She cheerfully imagined an afterlife that involved both a great love affair with Lord Jacky Fisher, former Admiral of the Fleet, and the haunting of her two spiritual homes: the River Dwyfor next to her house and the cliffs. from Trieste, where she would once again “watch the nightingales swarm”.

His life exemplified the belief that you don’t have to settle down as a unique being. This shape-shifting spirit is alive and well in the new posthumous collection of Morris essays, Allegorizations.

In one, she dreams of an alternative Britain in which Princess Diana, our ‘sinful patroness’, still bewitches the world in a ‘flaming crimson sundress and an incredible hat’, forever pronouncing the fond farewell that Morris has always longed for: “It’s been fun!

Tim Adams in an Observer columnist

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