Why books?

"Gutenberg's generation thirsted for a new book every six months! Your generation gets a new web page every six seconds. And how do you use this technology? To try and beat King Koopa, and rescue the princess. Shame on you. You deserve what you get." 

 

I think about this quote a lot, as I walk among rows and rows of shelf upon shelf of books in libraries, as I lift my foot high to step over a stack of books in my favorite used book store, as I look at the Kufic script, deftly drawn with gold ink in 500 year old manuscripts in museums, and medieval illuminations bound in calfskin tomes. I think about it as I run my fingers along the rough, worn-down edges of the books I love the most, those that sit next to my bed every night, even though I've read them so many times that I can recite parts of them by heart. I think about it when I open a new book, and immediately sneeze, trying to inhale as much as the scent of old paper as I can.

 

Most of all, I think of it when I gently crack open an old book, one that has been well-loved and well-worn, one whose cover is missing pieces - even gone entirely - or whose spine has creases and tears from being opened over the years. The leather is worn down, the now-brittle fabric and yellowed glue of the binding peeks through, and little specks of dust fall into my hands as the cover creaks open. 

 

There is something sacred about the physical, tangible object of a book. It can't be deleted, its printed words cannot be erased. It has weight to its cool pages and hard cover, and within those covers exist both a finite and infinite realm of possibilities. 

 

6 seconds does not seem so long, now, does it?

 


 

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