Why collect books in a digital age?

Posted 06.03.13

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | They add warmth to a room.

On an exterior wall they add insulation. Sit close to them and notice the warmth -- compared to a blank wall or to a screen. There's warmth.

Books are the result of human effort and principle.

One person wanted to write each one of those volumes. They are the result of thought and planning, paying attention to a great number of details. Rub up against them and feel a little of that energy and organization! Admire the principles that moved these people to create these works.

They embody history, like nothing else. They hold history. Books are vessels. There are books on these shelves from the Roman Empire, from Babylon, in fact, all the way to local histories published in Ottawa.

They derive from most of the great eras of human history and many from studies in pre-human history. All the accomplishments of those eras, as well as their failures. Go up close to those books; you'll feel enlivened, ever so slightly, invigorated with such vistas. You'll smell history.

Here on shelf after shelf is knowledge. There's plenty of foolishness, but certainly more of wisdom. And is not more wisdom better than less, more copies better than fewer? Doesn't the whole world need all the knowledge it can get? Doesn't your own household?

Blocks, stones, and logs across a stream are often helpful. Why not blocks and stepping-stones over all sorts of challenges, besides the occasional river?

The multi-faceted challenges of living -- our famous angst -- seems overwhelming at times, and this is exactly the purpose, the reason for many books: explanations, descriptions, speculations, re-countings, deductions and inductions…all stones over the different sorts of streams we each face.

Poetry is best read from a book.

Books are solid and substantial reminders that there is more to living than schedules, no matter who makes the schedules. Not merely a call for a change of pace, books are a porthole, at times, to what is behind the pace, the schedules, and behind our urge for distraction.

This is definitely non-digital.

Grandchildren: Books give those expanding, dynamic brains the food and the messages they'll never get from a TED talk on your i-Phone. Because they never see what you are watching, what catches your interest, but they do see what you have been reading. What you have read.

Those multi-coloured rows of books give the message that Grandpa loves learning and that Grandma loved poetry.

An idle cell phone tells them nothing about Granddad. They won't call and ask.

And being so colourful, books go with almost any decor, any colour scheme. They fit with any furniture from any era -- try Jack Kerouac on your Louis XVI chair -- perfect!

Mix and match with vases, photographs in frames, pottery, souvenirs and archaeological artifacts, stream-worn stones, artwork. Books make decorating a breeze, any sort of decorating, even if, heaven forbid, we're not at all concerned with appearances.


Copyright © 2014 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/06.14