A few weeks ago. I was conversing with a friend our talk went into the subject of reading. And my friend showed an ipad from which she read her books. I on the other hand told her that most books I read were still books and when the occasion warrants it I still buy a book from time to time. Adding to the collection I now have and which seemed to have taken over my room, making it a library or la bibliotheca than a room: I am surrounded by books. Yes, And yes I do have the gadgets of our age from a netbook, a tablet, an ipad and a smartphone but I still keep and read my books.
Let me explain.
For most I am content with reading ephemerals digitally. Newspapers, magazines and periodicals are what ephemerals are made of and because of the sheer volume and effectivity I find it best to peruse them on-line. And then there are certain types of books that lend themselves well to the digital medium – dictionaries, almanacs, and encyclopedias are indeed more practically viewed through an ipad or tablet. Although from time to time a dictionary at hand is also desirable. And Ambrose Bierce’s the Devil Dictionary is best read via the book. Something that is best savored and digested piece by piece.
Reading as a reflective exercise for pleasure and/or the pursuit of knowlefge is best done with a book and is probably the main reason why I still keep and maintain books. One can slowly digest and reflect the George Orwell’s The animal Farm and the Execution of an Elephant; Or enjoy the Cautionary Tales if Hilaire Belloc; and witness why Horton the Elephant proves the triumph of nurture over nature. On the other hand a study or a scholarly work, whether it is an assessment of social networks, the role of sex-reversal in groupers or the history of the Roman Republic or the life of Otto Leopold Von Bismark or Elpidio Quirino seems best undertaken with a book. One can meander and go over several facts and points, and in some instance scribble notes and markers, a useful thing when one comes back to this world of words and sheets.
Even comic books are best read between ones hand. Reading the adventure as one flipped the pages. Viewing the as the words and artwork combine to bring one to the worlds where the Son of Krypton and the Dark Knight lives, or where the Endless look over the affairs of different worlds or where where a wandering warrior and his friends churn up a funny tale now and again.
And because of all of this I still keep the book. Though now I must admit one has to be choosy in buying and keeping books. Content and personal preference aside longevity is another consideration – it must last and go beyond my lifetime. Hardbound and acid-free paper editions are best suited for this purpose. I try to stick to this as much as possible and it is amazing that one can discover such things in second hand book stores at a reasonable price. Another advantage of buying not only for content but for legacy is that one can be more selective and prudent when acquiring a book.