Are We Loosing Our Books?

Wisdom in Old Books

Wisdom in Old Books

While reading my email the other morning, it occurred to me that as we forge into the electronic age, we are also leaving the age of good old paper books, and we seem to be doing that  at warp speed. Call me ancient, but I still love the feel and smell of a book in my hand.

My iPad has seen it’s share of downloaded books, and while they may be easier to read with the ability to change font size, and brightness, they still aren’t quite the same as holding a real book with delicate pages, and an embossed cover.  As an artist I’m tactile, I love the feel of things like fabric, handmade papers, and yes books!  When one can’t feel the pages, or the slight imprint of  embossed text,  there becomes  a loss of romanticism, and mystery.  Touching the pages, or thumbing through the chapters seems to be the missing link to a world on imagination, and creativity.

While nosing through a thrift store, there seems to be   a huge selection of outdated, previously loved books, maybe even some books one might find can’t be lived without, or  even finding a rare and valuable edition.   This is a treasure trove for a mixed media artist, but a sad day for the books, who sit bitterly on an old plank made to hold other books like themselves.

One of my artist friends  looks for large, thick, old books so she can alter them, taking the insides out, embellishing them,  and making boxes out of them.  Her creations are to die for, and those large, thick discarded books are just what she looks for.  I guess she might say that this would be her lucky day to find such books on a dusty old shelf just waiting to be found, and brought back to life.

How do the books feel about all this?

On the other hand I pick one up, and immediately my thoughts go to the life it has had, and the stories they could tell if only they had a voice.  Sometimes there are little notes, or messages written inside that tell a story.  But, mostly we only need to use our imagination, and off we go on a merry-go-round of thoughts, and ideas!  If only those gloriously old books could reveal their stories about where they lived,  who they lived with, and what kind of shelf they resided on throughout their glory days.  Did they have more than one home, or were they given away each and every time someone was finished with them?  Had they been tossed around, or gently handled and cared for?images-7

How did they end up on a shabby shelf in a musty old thrift shop where the chances of ever finding a  forever home again are all but lost.  Had their owner died, leaving them homeless, or were they discarded like an old shoe?  I can almost feel their pain!  I can feel how rejected most of them must feel at the loss of clean crisp pages, or a undented or undamaged cover.  My heart goes out to them, and I want to bring them all home only to reassure each of them that they are loved, and as long as I’m alive they will never again be mistreated, or thrown around.  They would now have a place on a shelf that isn’t dusty, or crowded.  Their own place to be proud of…

Sadly I have always longed for a home with a large library,  floor to ceiling  –  with a big rolling ladder enabling me to  get way up at the top to retrieve one of my most cherished books to read.  I say sadly because, I have never been fortunate enough to have such a fabulous library, and now we have downsized our home to a small bookshelf in our office that barely holds the books we use each day.  My dream is sincere, and if I was able those books would have their forever homes.images-8

I know we have libraries, but as with puppies and kittens, there simply isn’t enough space for everyone to live side by side peacefully.   Would the answer lie with each of us building a large private library of our own to help out?    This I can not say, but I am saddened by the direction we are going, and the lack of those beautiful books of  days past!

Thank you for stopping by to read my post, see you next time…

3 responses »

  1. I think the situation for books is grim. The cheap pulp paper used to make physical books guarantees they can’t really last longer than about 50 years. Once exposed to light the reaction is unstoppable. When I think that a lot of those books were made from old growth forests I am sickened at the waste. And saving things electronically can be tricky. Software upgrades sometimes leave files unreadable. Though we are surrounded by documents today it would not take much to lose it all. Maybe we need to get some Irish monks on the job to preserve the best bits. 😉


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