03 September 2010

On the Merits of Books, or, A Book is Not a Novelty

When you read a good ways into a book, a real book printed on paper and bound, you can squeeze together the pages you've read to measure how far you've come. You can see how close to the middle or the end you are by the thickness of the pages. Then, once you finish the book, you can put it on your shelf next to your other finished books. Look at all the pages you've read!

When you give a book as a gift, you can write an inscription on the inside cover in your own handwriting, commemorating the occasion of the gift. Sometimes, books have blank pages in the back you can tear out and use at need.

Another great thing about a book is how you can take it camping or any other outdoor destination, and if someone kicks sand on you at the lake or it falls out of your backpack, you can pick it up, dust it off, and miss none of the utility of the book.

You can leave a book in the car in plain sight, and when you return to your car, the book will still be there, and your car window will not be broken. Even if it's a scorching hot day, you needn't worry about that book in the car.

A cookbook will often sustain wear and tear from working in a kitchen. But even if you splatter it with sauce or catch a corner on fire, the recipes will still be usable; the pages will still turn. If you take a book into a crowded public place like a bus or a sleepy private place like a hammock, a book can take the abuse of a shoving mob or the squish of a rolling body. Even if you drop your book in water, though the pages will never lay as flat as when you bought it, you can still read it.

If you read something especially resonant in a book, you can use a pencil or pen to underline it and add your own notes. And if you read a book you know a friend or acquaintance will appreciate, pass it on.

When you need a little extra cash, cull the ho-hum reads from your shelf and take them to the used book store. Maybe you can get enough money for gasoline, or groceries. Maybe you just need more money to buy books. Many used book stores offer more in trade than they do in cash. Trade in last semester's required titles and buy next semester's for a bargain.

Books can be collected by municipal libraries and arranged on shelves for easy browsing. In addition to housing books, the physical plant of a library hosts other community functions, such as a story time for children, homework help for students, volunteer opportunities, and meetings of various kinds.

Very few operator errors occur when using a book. Books never need a fresh battery and can continue to be read indefinitely after a power outage with no loss of capacity or impact.

Books limit their utility only to the literate.

Books can be piled in a heap and burned.