Imagine life without books!
As I hiked across the internet, searching for answers to this idea, I stumbled across a blog called “ The Reader Complex”, written by Kubra. In this blog, Kubra writes; “ The reason why authors write, readers read and write reviews is to unwind, to reflect, to be challenged, to be entertained, or to be transported to another time, place or world. All of these reasons, let alone the need to do so, would dissolve.”
Sure, now a days we can turn on the television, open up our lap tops, press our fingers to our tablets or stick ear buds in our ears to hear a great story, learn a lesson, or be entertained, but it isn’t the same as holding a book in our hands, feeling the crisp pages between our fingers, and devouring words like a baby guzzling down milk after he wakes from an especially long nap.
Every morning, before I wake my kids, or even before I gulp down my first cup of coffee, I run with my cell phone in hand, ear buds in both ears. Like most people, I am unable to run and “read” at the same time, therefore; I listen to my Andy Stanley sermon, or Joel Osteen or my news channel, instead. Admittedly, there is a time and a place for that type of non-book, media technology that educates, informs or entertains, but it will never become a substitute for the good, old fashioned book, where we explore the world, or the mind of an individual we admire or fear.
Writers write so that readers can read. Whether we write to an audience who prefers media over books, we must still write. Writers will always have a job. But, the possibility of someday ridding our society of books, of succumbing fully to mass media technology, and in the process signing a death warrant for the beloved book, would be a massive mistake.
In Ray Bradbury’s; Fahrenheit 451, we see a society that has made that mistake. Because of the collaborative dwindling attention span, as individuals fall victim to the easier, quicker task of opening a computer, or turning on a television, and the eagerness to censor or protest anything that does not conform to what the individual feels is adequate, books were outlawed and destroyed. It was believed that books provided too much opportunity to think on one’s own, to form one’s own opinion, rather than submit to what the government or society thinks is best.
Despite that the protagonist in the story begins to wonder if books of the past may have had the potential to contain messages that might actually save society, rather than destroy it, most other characters in the story had become too mindless to understand his questions, let alone agree with his theory.
To further this point, the former English professor in the story spends years regretting that he did not see this coming, that he did not stand up for what he believed when he first saw the signs of destruction heading his way.
When we look around us now, and see the division in our world, and the differences in viewpoints as to how individuals perceive right and wrong, injustice and fairness, discrimination and tolerance, we see this potential concept to ban books in its infancy. If we can change how someone else thinks, the way he or she perceives the world, perhaps we can change society altogether, so that it becomes the way we want it to be. Perhaps we can reshape it into the world we prefer, the one in which we were raised to believe would be perfect, almost utopian. If we could rid ourselves of the viewpoints of others who disagree with us, we may have a chance. So, why not start with the destruction of and banning of books?
But, then I ask, isn’t that how we shaped our thought processes and became the individuals we are today? By reading books, forming our own opinions, becoming the unique and special individuals we are meant to be. It was that way for me- growing up, surrounded by piles of books.
However, I am sorry to say, as I watch this new generation walk around with ear buds plugged into their ears all day- well beyond a simple, thirty minute early morning run, with fingers pressing cell phone keys as they sit across from companions at a dinner table, and x-boxes blaring from bedrooms in which they isolate themselves from their families, I wonder if perhaps the destruction of books has already begun.
As the English Professor Faber in Fahrenheit 451 would say, “why didn’t I say something, or stand up for books, when I could, before it was too late”. Why must we ignore the signs coming our way now, as book stores go out of business, replaced by technology stores and e-books. We know the value of the written word and we know what happens when we take what we value for granted. It eventually disappears like water evaporating in the heat. One minute it is there and the next minute it is gone. Just as we take our children’s childhood for granted when it is here with us; then suddenly it is gone and we wonder where it went.
In the “Reader Complex ‘blog, there is a poem I felt fitting for this topic. I hope the creator of The Reader Complex is okay with me sharing it. (Look up The Reader Complex blog when you can!):
“I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.”
― Julia Donaldson
The point here, is to appreciate the beauty and value of books and what they represent in our lives and to never take them so much for granted that they eventually become extinct. A life without books is a life without expression, creativity, imagination, inspiration, hope, reflection, and education in its rawest and most meaningful form. It is a life I could not imagine.