In Praise of Proper Books
Modern technology has given us many wonderful things , information on any and every subject under the sun, instant communication to virtually any part of the world and the ability to see and talk with loved ones even though they are thousands of miles away. Information technology means that ebooks on any subject can be downloaded at the click of a mouse and literature can be downloaded and stored on reading devices like Kindle. I find this fascinating but somewhat soulless as it can deprive us of one of the pleasures in life - a printed physical book!
A 'proper' book can stimulate and satisfy the senses in many ways. Initially you may be drawn to the title or the author or even the dust cover. You pick it up and feel the weight and if it is a new book there is a faint smell which to me is reminiscent of new school exercise books. The dust cover gives a short biography of the author and a brief outline of the story which either leads you further into the book or to replace it and browse further . Sometimes the title does not give much idea of the story line but an illustrated dust jacket can convey the period in which the book is set. Dependent on the reader's mood a tome such as Tolstoy's 'War and Peace' may be selected , weighty and serious in every aspect, or a slim, romantic book of verse.
To my mind there is nothing more relaxing than whiling away a wet afternoon in a public library where it is warm and quiet and furnished with comfortable seats set among shelves full of books on every subject you may wish for. To be able to browse among the classic authors such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen who brought to life so vividly a bygone area where etiquette was so completely different and then move on to the biographies of famous people and share their lives is a joy. It is interesting to study the other people similarly occupied, some of them retired people but surprisingly alot of younger people are there dipping in and out of the various books. On many occasions I have been transported from the library to far distant lands just because the dustcover depicting a foreign landscape had caught my eye and I could not resist picking up the book and reading but like a character in a children's story I alway went home for tea!
A well stocked bookcase can tell the observer something about the character of the owner - their interests and hobbies and possibly their sense of humour. A well worn book is usually a much loved book that has been read and reread many times . A 'coffee table' took is more illustrations than text but none the less appealing and usually entertaining, To me the most precious book I own is a well worn, well thumbed leather bound missal which has stood me in good stead in the bad times and the good and which I hope will continue to do so.
Ebooks and reading tablets of course have their place in today's world especially for those who live in remote places and the housebound but it would be a shame if libraries and bookshops were to close through lack of patronage and so if you have some time to spare visit your local library or bookshop and treat yourself to a 'proper' book for bedtime and then at least if you should nod off while reading you need not worry about breaking an expensive reading device!