Did you get a Kindle for Christmas? Many people have substituted a Kindle or similar electronic device for a personal library or they simply purchase throw-away paperback versions of everything from pop fiction and self-help books to the classics. A recent article in the New York Times posed the question: What Books Can You Live Without? http://tinyurl.com/ybs6pfk As individuals we are encouraged to cull or eliminate our personal collections, with the reasoning that we don’t have room in our lives for books…they take up wall space, they are dust collectors, just idle clutter. Many public and educational libraries are ditching books in favor of additional space for more computers. A home library, even a modest one, is becoming unusual. Our society is currently spurning books in favor of virtual, fleeting entertainments.
My take on this is different. Many of us are gazing into an electronic screen all day at our jobs. The last thing we want to do is turn on another one when the work day is over. A Kindle or other electronic reading device is handy for travelers and may be useful for short term enjoyment. But let’s not “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” The presence of books in a home is known to encourage children to read and to develop a sense of imagination, curiosity and an investigative spirit. A home library encourages adults toward conversations over shared interests, and a book collection is a record of our intellectual and recreational reading expeditions over a lifetime. Books remain with us as friends and teachers; we can go back to them time after time. They lend beauty and ambiance to the atmosphere of any dwelling place, and stand by as reminders that they are ready to transport us through– or to– any condition or experience.
In celebration of the beauty of printed and bound words, of magnificent architecture and mankind’s historical reverence for books, let me share with you a visit to one of my favorite websites, ‘Curious Expeditions’ to view their splendid “Compendium of Beautiful Libraries”: http://curiousexpeditions.org/?p=78