While I was going through security at Los Angeles International Airport last month after a week-long visit to perform new poetry from my collection-in-progress, I was forced to remove all the books I had purchased from my carry-on bag. I protested to the TSA agent, but he said it was a pilot program being tested at LAX. I forgot a book stashed at the bottom of my bag and was pulled aside for extra screening. Sigh.

Another TSA agent pawed through my bag, flipped through the pages of each book and even inspected the copy of Vanity Fair with Carrie Fisher on the cover. Maybe he was a secret “Star Wars” fan. I had not heard about this new procedure and continued to press the agent about why they were inspecting flyers’ reading material. I was, naturally, suspicious this was some new government ploy to pry into our lives. To the agent’s credit, he patiently explained – I’m guessing I wasn’t the first person who had gotten a little snippy about it – that the x-ray technicians sometimes couldn’t clearly see all the contents of a carry-on bag if there were too many books stacked inside. That made sense, but it still hacked me off.

While I waited, I watched as my fellow travelers were told to remove their reading material. There were more complaints, questions and protests, and while I was incensed at the delay, I was secretly thrilled to see that just about everyone had books in their carry-on luggage. From big novels to young adult, reading physical books still hasn’t gone out of style.

As I flew west to south, I settled into my window seat and read Joan Didion’s new essay collection, “South and West” (it’s fantastic, by the way). By the time I landed in Atlanta, I had finished the book and was figuring out how to better pack for my next trip in case this removing reading material becomes a regular thing. My love of books trumps the hassle.

Be sure to check out INtown’s selection of recommended books for summer reading at this link

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.