Book is used to record our thoughts, ideas, observations, imaginations, and accomplishments. Since the dawn of civilization, before there was paper, we drew on rocks, bamboos, papyrus, anything that could preserve our writings. In the library, today, we can find books on any subject that one can conjure up written by people from all walks of life. Some of the books are best sellers, some are for reference, some are educational, some are fictions, some books are influential and relevant after thousands of years, and most of them are just sitting on the self collecting dust. The reason that most people write a book is not because of money, fame, and or immortality but because of the urge to share their thoughts that they know they will forget in due time. The book will not only present the thoughts in a more readable and understandable format but also reach a wider audience. People read books for information to satisfy the curiosity, for recreation and escapism from the daily routines.
There are many religious, philosophical, and scientific books that have changed people’s life and altered the course of our civilization. Some of the books are written by single individual, some are the result of a small group of individuals, and some are the work by people on other people who did not have time to write down their life altering thoughts and or deeds. All these books have few things in common; they are about:
The meaning and purpose of life;
Equality, morality, and mortality;
The new discovery and interpretation of Nature’s physical laws.
These books teach us that there is more to life than survival of the fittest, right from wrong, and good vs. bad. For peaceful coexistence, there will be laws and order, rules and regulations, love and tolerance. Nature’s wonder, randomness, chaos, beauty and destructiveness can be understood by mathematical equations, chemical periodic table, evolutionary theory, and quantum mechanics.
We write educational books to teach the young and the innocent about the ways of Nature and the ever more complex man-made world. As our civilization advances, these books become more differentiated complex, and massive. Today, there are books on Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, democracy, ecology,.. , weather, X-ray, yeast, and zoology. No one can be expected to master all the subject matters. A person needs only to acquire some basic knowledge on certain basic subject matters to make a living in the real world. But, how to manage the real world to keep 7 billion people healthy and content requires more and deeper understanding of ourselves, Nature, and the Universe. It is a task that demands the cumulative efforts of all the people with unique talents on the myriad subject matters. These educational books are the crystallization of their endeavors and will be the stepping stones for the future generations to a brighter tomorrow.
Today, most of the books written are recreational – romance, fantasy, crime, adventure, etc. They are the works by people with fertile imagination though some of them are based on actual occurrences. The stories are usually spiced with extreme hateful, lovable, righteous, and flawed characters, and staged in scenarios and situations that normally will not unfold in the ordinary life. People like to read them in the spare times to relief themselves from the mundane and sometimes stressful routines. Only in a well-developed, free, and prosperous society, people dare to find time to crystallize their wild imaginations and turn the impossible dreams into believable reality. As the society becomes more civilized, our life becomes more structured and our activities more restricted, and there are rules and regulations at every facet of our social life. The recreational books open a safe passage for the people to experience worlds they will probably never enter and unleash emotions that will invigorate their soul.
Many past civilizations were considered lost due to lack of written records. We know of their existences through archeological discoveries of the artifacts left behind. We can only guess at their ways of life. With the invention of paper, books become widespread to record civilization’s history, cultures, traditions, beliefs, etc. The future generation can not only learn from the civilization’s past accomplishments but also build upon them in the present and plan for a better tomorrow. With the arrival of the computer and Internet age, paper becomes less crucial to record events. Average people can input and store their thoughts directly into the computer and share them with other people around the world through the Internet. Today, we do not have to go to the library all the time to find information on certain subject as we can first do the search on the Internet. It is a matter of time that all the books ever written will be digitized and accessible with a PC connected to the World Wide Web. Books are the fruit of our curiosity, the concrete manifestation of our intellect, and the foundation of our civilization. In the meantime, our world has marched to an uncharted territory – a population of 7 billion people in every corner of the Earth, stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the air pollution that causes extreme climate changes, etc. No matter where our destiny is headed, with the help of the books, we will always know how we get there.