Introverted New Yorkers will forever lament the demise of books in New York City. No matter how intimidating it felt to attend a friend’s social gathering or holiday apartment party, when social anxiety struck, there was always the bookshelf to save your introverted soul. Introverts simply needed to grab an alcoholic beverage, and head directly to the bookshelf, where one could learn everything they needed to know about the host’s sensibilities and soul – while having plenty of authors, characters, and stories to discuss until it was time to go home. Bookshelves were our social saviors.
But then something happened. Life became weird. The apps on our smartphones demanded more of our attention, the publishing industry arrogantly ignored the approaching iceberg of digital technologies, and reading became more of an exotic hobby, like painting grains of rice to relax. “Good for you,” people say, looking for someone else to talk to. Even more tragic: physical books became a burden, so devalued that today, books that changed a reader’s life and took a lifetime for the author to craft now line the sidewalks alongside discarded pizza boxes, umbrella skeletons, and broken microwaves.
All of that creative energy, literary artfulness, and insightful wisdom. Gone. As if books no longer have a voice. Or at least a voice that no one wants to hear anymore. All those authors without bookshelves. All of those bookshelves without books. All of those introverts without a way to connect with others. The art of the book and the art of conversation are critical to culture in New York City. Without books, social functions become the domain of loud people. Which may, in fact, be the introvert. Because without books there is only booze to speak to the anxiety. Cheers everyone.