Ah, it’s not a question of tradition or romance. And the prices have come down within reach. It’s not a case of fighting the onslaught of change or resistance to modern technology.

The Book rises over the Kindle, the Nook, et al, for this: it can be safely left on the table beside a hospital bed without fear of theft or confusion. It can be picked up by anyone, any of his visitors who are willing to sit and read to him. A continuing narrative stopped not by button but bookmark, a thin slip of paper holding the place.

Wife, son and brother, sisters and an occasional temporarily-approved friend. Each know the mechanics of opening a book, flipping a page, reading. Even an aide may get antsy herself, go through the motions, her voice carrying the story on through conflicts no worse than what the man goes through just lying there on the bed. He gets tired, frustrated, scared in uncomfortable, pinned down like a butterfly day after day. His vista a wide-open expanse of the ceiling with the occasional head popping through like a cloud in his sky.

He escapes into dreams in his sleep. But he needs more to escape while awake.

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