A book to hold

Categories: Books, Musings, Science & Tech
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There’s something about having a book physically in your hands that really can’t be beat. The feel. The smell. New books have a different smell than old books, but I love them just the same. It’s a big part of why I really can’t see myself ever enjoying an e-reader. I recall several times in Star Trek, when all reading is done electronically, the reverence the characters had toward actual printed words and how valuable a physical book was. There’s just something about the feel of a book.

I enjoyed this quote from a Mental Floss article, What does the future hold for libraries? last month:

… but I’ll always choose books over computers, because computers become obsolete, and books do not. A well-bound hardback can last a hundred years or more. How long will a computer last?

The fact that I have books that are decades old while my computer is considered dying at 5 years says something. My books I will pass on. My children and grandchildren will read them.

One of the books I read this year belonged to my grandma and I felt warm inside when I came to passages that she had marked. It was also fun for me because it would be other passages that I would mark. But it was a book she had held. And while she died when I was nine months old, that book was an experience she and I shared. You can’t do that with an electronic book.

The history of civilization classes I took at BYU were through the special collections at the library. We looked at Sumerian tablets. Ancient Papyrus. Illuminated manuscripts. Physical writings from the past that are still part of our lives today. The physical act of writing and having something physical to hold connects generations across time. When the batteries die today, what will be left to read?

The Icelandic volcano has been in the news a lot lately. I love this picture of it with ash and lightning. It’s so majestic and beautiful in its power. The effect it’s had on my life has been pretty much non-existent. But for thousands of people it changed their day-to-day lives and caused a lot of problems. A group of people stranded by the ash came together to create a magazine about their experience. The finished product will be available online, but ultimately they want to create a physical magazine, something you can touch and hold. I could really understand the sentiment behind what the creator said:

“To create a website would be something continually updated for a while but eventually it would wither away and die in a corner of the internet.

“To make a physical product means that it exists on your bookshelf that you can pick up and read and remember. It happens in a more serendipitous way in your life; it brings back the emotional resonance again.”

My personal journal is hand written for similar reasons. I need it to be permanent. I need it to be set rather than something I can continually update. And I need it to exist on a bookshelf as a way to say that my life exists. I’m also reminded that I should really make a physical product out of a lot of my electronic writings for very similar reasons.

There is just something about having a physical book to hold. And I hope to always have one within reach.

Tomorrow’s post: A book to throw.

4 shared thoughts about A book to hold

  1. Brett says:

    As you and I have discussed, physically writing with my hand makes it easier to remember what I’ve written than typing does. Humans seem predisposed to the written word in many ways. :penguin:

    • Giggles says:

      Writing is much more physical than typing. And reading a book is more physical than reading on the computer. I can remember where on the page something is when I read a book. But there aren’t exactly pages to remember when I’m reading on the computer.

  2. Giggles says:

    You can’t curl up with a good electronic device

    Yup. It’s just not the same.

    And if you bother to read the comments on the article (which I can’t really recommend unless you are into poking your eyes out with forks), to the guy who said the iPad offers the same experience as a physical book – I wasn’t aware that a computer could now simulate the feel of paper and the smell of bindings.

  3. Pingback, 16 March 2011 at 9:29 am
    A book to read (that makes you smart) | Random Giggles

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