Why Books Will Survive

Books are sensory objects. They have a pleasing look, a comforting smell, a grainy feeling, a reassuring weight. The best-loved ones are battered, dog-eared, coffee-stained, signed by the author, and they create beautiful bookshelves. You can lend a book, read it and shove it anywhere, hide treasures in it.  A book carries your memories with it, locked into countless brain networks by all those senses and ideas you had when reading it. Why do you love your books?

“If you take a book with you on a journey,…an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it…yes, books are like flypaper–memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.” ― Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

I still wonder if books will survive a long time because there’s nothing as convenient, nothing else that entertains and informs us in so “human” a manner. A book works at my speed, comfortable and slow, faster when I want it to be, then slow again. Many of my books are old friends. A world of chaos is a high possibility, given the human urge to dominate others, but our need for story, for understanding ourselves through story, our history through story, for entertaining ourselves with story is a constant.– Jack Lasenby (Read the full interview here).

Books will have to earn their keep – and so will bookshops. Books will have to become more desirable: not luxury goods, but well-designed, attractive, making us want to pick them up, buy them, give them as presents, keep them, think about rereading them, and remember in later years that this was the edition in which we first encountered what lay inside… When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic. And for this serious task of imaginative discovery and self-discovery, there is and remains one perfect symbol: the printed book.– Julian Barnes

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6 Responses to “Why Books Will Survive”

  1. Mike Crowl Says:

    You forgot to mention reading a book in the bath….one of life’s great joys!

  2. Raymond Says:

    Indeed, although a few of my books have not survived that particular joy.

  3. Penelope Says:

    It remains to be seen how long and in what form ebooks will survive, and how or whether memories will attach to the reading device or the digitally read story . . . (perhaps I should conduct a survey).

  4. Raymond Says:

    Good idea. For ebooks there must still be a strong element of attachment to a great story. But will it last as long and long enough for there to be ebook ‘classics’? Lasenby says he ‘lets time do the winnowing’ for him.

  5. Zireaux Says:

    A lover of books, yes, but undisputed champion when it comes to spinning them on my finger. From thick paperbacks to flimsy childrens’ books to gargantuan coffee-table tombs, they can helicopter atop my skyward-pointing digit in perpetual momentum, like the spinning plates of a circus act.

    Have yet to find the necessary bravado, however, to attempt the same stunt with an iPad.

    A review of E.B. White’s essays I think you’d enjoy:
    http://immortalmuse.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/one-man’s-meat-by-e-b-white-harper-row-c1944-republished-by-tilbury-house-1997-279-pages/

    -Z

  6. Raymond Says:

    Ta Z, I found the book One Man’s Meat in the public library and I’m loving it. Will attempt to spin it after reading.

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