Thursday, March 11, 2010


I'd originally thought to call this post "why ebooks?" but, on reflection, thought better of it. That is, before I can even begin to ask about ebooks, I want to reflect on the more basic question of why books AT ALL.

It's a hard question for me to ask - simply because books are such basic part of my life I can barely imagine what life would be without them. Sitting at my computer at this moment - without moving my head (just rolling my eyes in every direction) I can easily count over two dozen books in front of me. Reference books and fiction. Library books, used books, audio books (on real tape even) surround me. If I stepped away from the computer and surveyed the room I'd easily top 100 - maybe two hundred.

So I'm maybe the wrong person to ask "why books?" I can barely even form the question.

Fortunately other, more lucid people have answered the question for me: - a sampling:

A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend. ~Author Unknown

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy. ~Edward P. Morgan

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. ~Author Unknown

A while back Ray Bradbuy made news two ways - as a champion of books and libraries... and by disapproving of the internet:

"Among Mr. Bradbury's passions, none burn quite as hot as his lifelong enthusiasm for halls of books. ... 'Libraries raised me,' Mr. Bradbury said. 'I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.' ... The Internet? Don't get him started. 'The Internet is a big distraction,' Mr. Bradbury barked... 'Yahoo called me eight weeks ago,' he said, voice rising. 'They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? "To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet." It's distracting. It's meaningless; it's not real. It's in the air somewhere.'"

For good measure - here's more good "pro-book" quotes:

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read. ~G.K. Chesterton

Many people, other than the authors, contribute to the making of a book, from the first person who had the bright idea of alphabetic writing through the inventor of movable type to the lumberjacks who felled the trees that were pulped for its printing. It is not customary to acknowledge the trees themselves, though their commitment is total. ~Forsyth and Rada, Machine Learning

A good book has no ending. ~R.D. Cumming

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. ~P.J. O'Rourke

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. ~Groucho Marx

I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book. ~Groucho Marx

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. ~Mark Twain, attributed

A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog's ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins. ~Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia, 1833

Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights.
~Author Unknown

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~Chinese Proverb

There's nothing to match curling up with a good book when there's a repair job to be done around the house. ~Joe Ryan

Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own. ~William Hazlitt