I’m not sure yet what I mean, but I know that I mean it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the future of printed books…no solid answers have been forthcoming, but I haven’t been liking how I feel. Before you dismiss me out of hand, let me say I am no Luddite. I won’t buy the first version of some new technology only because I don’t want pay to work out the bugs for a huge corporation, but if it’s convenient and gives me more choice, I’ll hop on board pretty quickly. And I’m not much for sticking with something just because that’s how it’s done; nostalgia is like alcohol – a little bit is fun and possibly healthy, but too much makes you the person who doesn’t get invited to the next party.

Music, movies, TV – the switch to a digital distribution stream has been fine for me, but books are a different story. Damn it, I thought writing this down would help me put some shape around my emotions, but it’s not helping yet…

Brainstorm (sentence fragments ahead)! Books are solid. Real. Permanent in a way that words on a screen are not. Amazon is benign now, but if they are the only game in town, how long would they stay that way? I like having books in my house – it makes me feel happy to just look at them. Libraries and book stores are AWESOME – I hate to think of living in a culture that doesn’t have them. Books frequently change the world and then stick around afterward to talk about what happened…long story short, I think we would lose more than we can envision right now if knowledge is just transmitted via a screen. I know that it won’t happen tomorrow, or even in five years, but I have an icky feeling about it…

Ok. I got most of it out. A few disclaimers: I work in Publishing. I personally feed the beast – I make sure files get to Amazon so you can read neat things on your Kindle. I have a Kindle, and I like it. But not as much as a book.

So, getting to the point of why I’m ranting about this on THIS blog…for The Global Reader, I’m going to stick with print as much as I can. I’m going to buy from local bookstores first, chain bookstores second, go to the library when needed, and try to steer clear of Amazon when at all possible. So there’s my thumb in your eye, Mr. Relentless Tide of Progress.

Cleopatra

As can happen sometimes, I jumped into this project with both feet – and without mapping out a schedule. Not really an issue of course, but I’m more than a little behind on my reading, and cooking. Oh well. This is a marathon, not a sprint, right? And lesson learned: I do need to give at least a small amount of thought to my pace, otherwise it will take 10 years to get through this…

Anyway.

To fill in the gap, I thought it would be fun to take a look around town and see if anything of Egypt exists in Cincinnati. As luck would have it, Cleopatra is visiting. How thoughtful of her!

Through mid-September, the Cincinnati Museum is hosting Cleopatra: The Exhibition. It highlights new archeological discoveries of her life and times, and offers up a nuanced image of her as a person and a leader.

Overall, I thought it was well worth the price of admission. I’ll go ahead and get the “negative” (if you even want to call it that) out of the way first: this exhibit is definitely based on the Vegas model of More is More. It is not a calm, soothing museum-like experience; there are lighting effects, a rather confusing flow of images, and more audio cues than you can sometimes process at one time, but viewed in a larger context, it really doesn’t matter. It’s built to handle crowds, and to convey information to a very diverse audience, and it does those things quite nicely.

That said, my husband and I were there on one of the first sunny Friday evenings in memory, and we had the place to ourselves. We had plenty of space and time to wander around, which I really enjoyed. The exhibit is primarily based on artifacts that have been salvaged from the Bay of Alexandria, the city where Cleopatra and her court resided. Just the history about the destruction of parts of the city, mostly from an earthquake and tsunami, was fascinating – especially in light of recent events in Japan.

I think I was most impressed by how stylish and graceful so many of the items were, and how diverse and lively the society appears to have been. These were obviously sophisticated people, so much so that The Romans seem dull and plodding in comparison. If I had been around then, I would have thrown in with the Egyptian crew for sure. Even their religion seemed fun!

Oh and the statues. The best part to me. Some of the smaller ones were very expressive; you can see the emotion and care that the artists put into them. And the pair that guarded Cleopatra’s temple – major wow factor is all I can say. I just hung around them for awhile; it was easy to imagine them at their posts, gleaming in the bright Egyptian sun and how they certainly inspired a sense of awe and reverence. I will probably go back before the exhibit leaves just to see them again.

But that’s enough about that. You deserve to have your own experience without my words rattling around in your head.

And one last thing you learn right at the end – Angelina Jolie is going to be the latest actress to play Cleopatra. I’ll probably go see that too.

Queen Cleopatra
(image from Wikimedia Commons)

Every journey begins with…

I was born to travel. My parents wasted no time hitting the road with me in tow – a July baby, I had a trip to Montreal under my belt by the end of that September. And I haven’t stopped wandering since. I want to see everything I possibly can…

However, I am also an average girl – family obligations, not a lot of money in the bank, and certainly not enough vacation time.

But everyday obstacles can’t stop me from thinking about seeing the world. Daydreams are free. And reading is pretty affordable too.

So with that in mind, I’ll begin this journey: Read a book from (or about) every country in the world. And to make it that much more interesting, and social, I’ll cook a meal to go along with the locale.

Some basics:

I’m using The Travel Book by Lonely Planet as the starting point. I’ve got the 2004 edition on my shelf, so that’s that – but since this will take a long time, I’ll add or subtract countries as the need arises. It’s a fluid world we live in. Things change.
I was going to work through the list alphabetically, but that felt really confining.

And some countries are just too far down the road. Seriously – poor Zimbabwe; why do they always have to be last? So, I got a cute little tin, made tags for each country, and will pick my next destination by luck of the draw.

For the cooking part : I’m just going to wing it. It’ll be fun to research, and suggestions and recipes are always welcome.

That’s about it.

I intend to travel lightly and without too many expectations.
I want to be open to what I find when I get there.

It’s a big world. The least I can do is read about it.
(Image by NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Applied Physics Laboratory via Wikimedia Commons)