“We read to know we are not alone.” C.S.Lewis
We read for a million reasons. To seek solace and companionship and affirmation. To bring alive or overcome the deepest darkest recesses of our minds. Reading is the best foil to the human condition- although a close second is fishing. It nurtures curiosity, gives wings to the search for knowledge, and improvement, the exploration of the world within and the world beyond. It’s the easiest form of escapism. There’s no better place to start than a book.
And yet The Books is changing. Reading and writing and story telling are evolving. There are new fashions and genres and fads. Just look at what the kids are reading. Or maybe what they aren’t reading. Globally there’s increasing literacy and with that new contributors with world views fresh for print and new markets to explore.
And then, impossible to ignore, there are e-books and e-readers, and online books and self-publishing.
The little video below, by Hannah Ryu Chung, is a beautiful, erudite exploration of what technology means for the life and health of the printed book. The many contributors explain how the paper/electronic divide should not be, and is not, a question of either/or. It’s one of ‘and’, and ‘also’. It’s a bibliophile Hurrah.
As you well know, I am a romantic when it comes to books, but that doesn’t make me unrealistic or deluded (I think). There is much truth in Stephen Fry’s observation that
“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators”
And yet when there are 10 floors to climb we all need a little encouragement. We must build stamina in our contemporaries. So let us champion the book:
Share what you’re reading with friends, all the time.
Never go anywhere without a book. We all know reading is sexy, and it’s a great conversation starter, so no need to worry about looking uncool. Old school is in, didn’t you hear?
Never verbalize criticisms of another’s choice of book or medium, reading is reading. Although you could surreptitiously slip magical quotes into conversation like Murakami’s ‘If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking‘…
Next time you’re feeling generous, for a birthday or a holiday or a rainy thursday, give a book. It’s the gift that just keeps giving- and yes, we’re going to reclaim the saying from VD.
and to finish it off, there’s the invaluable advice of John Waters