The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quiet Please!

I was reading a new novel the other day, "Genesis" by Poul Anderson, and a main character, Laurinda, considers why she reads in a time of great technological advancement. Though it wasn't mentioned, I inferred that she read real books rather than computerized, or electronic, ones. Naturally, that set me to thinking about why I read physical books rather than electronic ones.

I have tried to read online. There is an amazing amount of literature available to anyone, free of charge. The Gutenberg Project has over 27000 books free to read, free to download in eBook form or in other forms for other electronic devices. It is a huge electronic library, available to all. And they are not alone. Many other sources are out there.

But I never get more than a few "pages" into anything available online. I am at a loss when I cannot hold a book in my hands, feel the pages as I turn them. I must see and feel the printed page in order to immerse myself in the book. I am not sure how Laurinda reads, I only know how I must.

Fortunately for me (and for the most lovely Faye who reads much more than I do), there is a library cooperative in our little town. They share resources with three other libraries in nearby cities. We can look up whatever is available and put a request in for it. If our local library has it, a hold will be put on it. If it is available at another, it will be sent to our local library and we will be notified (by a human being calling on the phone!) when it arrives. This was never available to me when I was growing up.

As a boy, libraries were huge, forbidding places unless they were in my school. Even there, they were places with extra rules about quiet and decorum. Yet, they were also places where almost anything could be learned without having to wait for a teacher to speak it, to write it on a blackboard, to conduct some kind of exercise and for it to come up in the lesson plans. A library was unfettered learning, limited only by my own curiosity's boundaries, by which I mean no limits at all.

A book is a magical thing. It unleashes your imagination by paradoxically tying it to the author's. You soar through space to distant galaxies, wander under the earth or seas, fly over mountains and plains, travel back into history or forward into the future. But I cannot do any of that unless I can hold the bundle of paper in my own hands. It isn't real to me until then. It's like the words don't just come into my brain through my eyes but also get absorbed through my fingertips.

If you have a library available to you, use it. If you can, volunteer to help out (they will undoubtedly appreciate it). Support it in any way you can. Take your children to one, take your grandchildren to one, encourage others to explore the ones in your area.


Sal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sal said...

There is something magical about holding and reading a book in your own hands. I quite agree with you.

underOvr (aka The U) said...

Unfortunately the era of published books seems to be on the decline; the overriding factor being publication costs.

Chris Snynder wrote an article for Wired (online, of course), about a deal ScrollMotion concluded with major publishing houses for the iPhone and iPod touch devices, "App Developer Strikes E-Book Deals With Major Publishers".

Being in the technology field my entire adult life, I have an obvious bias, but I still make my pilgrimages to the local smalltown library. One of the things I truely miss about living in a large urban city is the availability and access to book selections. An option that makes it easier for someone like me to go online and retrieve what I want.


Anonymous said...

Douglas, you are absolutely right, the feel of a book is an essential part of the reading process. I have tried and failed on-line, it's not the same colitibr.


Robot Nine said...

Yes, it's just no fun to curl up in bed with electronics, not even a Kindle. I like the feel and smell of a book, and just like you often try to read online and end up failing, sometimes printing out something just so I can bend it, mark on it, whatever.
By the way Doulgls, thanks for sending me to JigZone for jigsaw puzzles. I stayed up to late and just blewi into work on time! Very addictive. I am going to post about it on Laid Back Think Tank with a link back to Boomer Musings.

Douglas said...

Though I think U is right, the age of physical books is on the decline, I suspect that will turn around for precisely the reasons we all agree on. Two things in man's history are consistent: story telling (handing myth and history down) and the desire to feel, physically, the words.