Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thoughts About Books

What Happens When Homes Have No Books

"A child without books is little different than a home without books. The bookless home is the logical consequence of a society that stops reading deeply. It is a state that has been imagined by some of history’s greatest science fiction writers. Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, for example, invites us into a society that investigates readers and burns down book-infested homes. In a 1993 introduction to his book (before the advent of the smartphone), Bradbury presciently pointed out that matches would never be needed to achieve a bookless world like the fictional one he had created. Killing off the hunger to read would do the job just as well (with far less smoke and mess) and be achieved by drowning everyone in a vacuum of empty noise, with no controversies, no opinions, no intellectuals:
“[Y]ou don’t have to burn books, do you, if the world starts to fill up with nonreaders, nonlearners and nonknowers? If the world wide-screen-basketballs and footballs itself to drown in MTV, no Beatty’s are needed to ignite the kerosene or hunt the reader. If the primary grades suffer meltdown and vanish through the cracks and ventilators of the schoolroom, who, after a while, will know or care?"
I'm surrounded by books, walls of them. They are only loosely categorized, and most of them are filled with markers and are defiled by my notes and highlighting. I do have a shelf full of books-yet-to-be-read, and a space for magazines I choose not to part with.

Books are not an end in themselves; they are a tool, a memory outside of my own, one which contains the thoughts and derivations of others. Many others. And I choose not to count the books, nor even estimate it, that would be obscene, as if to count the limits of my own mind, which I also refuse.

I don't own a kindle, and I don't download books. Others might benefit from that, they're cheaper that way. Ever since Amazon reached out and "retrieved" a book that the users were not supposed to have been allowed access to, I have refused to even consider the digital route. My books are mine.

It's not that I love books (paper and bindings), it's that I love the pursuit of knowledge. All my books are part of that pursuit. When I look at the bookshelves I actually see the accumulation of knowledge, opinion and insight which each book represents.

I have at least one book on the way from Amazon right now. In fact, I almost always do.

1 comment:

Robert Coble said...

I concur wholeheartedly. I have a tablet with a book reader app, but have never downloaded an ebook. I much prefer to have a book that I can highlight and mark up with my own thoughts, which can be reviewed and refreshed and referenced as needed.

Sad but true: I was once asked by a manager if I had actually read any of the books that I kept in my work space (several book cases full). (Most of my library was kept at home.) I suggested that she pull a book at random, and check for highlighting and notes in the margins. She pulled a couple out, and thumbed through them, finally accepting that I had read them. For the record, she had no such books anywhere in her office space. neither did anyone else in my organization, which had over 300 people.

Merry Christmas to all!