What is a Book?

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When I was little my father took me to the library and I was so very young the sour old woman at the desk told him I could not borrow books, hinting not so gently that I would tear out pages and tint the margins with rainbow colors.

Dad knew better. I had been reading since I was three. My love affair with books started early. Books were so important when I was a child. I gobbled them up as if I was starving. Books are ideas manifested in paper and ink.

Today, I have published a score of books in paper and electronic editions, explorations of ideas that pestered me night and day until I was moved to sit down with my yellow legal pad, my portable typewriter, and finally my frightening and intelligent new computer – to write. A book is an idea that won’t let go, and once started takes you on a roller coaster ride to its end.

Rijksmuseum-Research-LibraryFor me, a move from upstate New York led to the Eastern Shore of Maryland – an odd and historically isolated land rich in history and interesting characters. I suppose it was only natural that I turned to local lore after years on the beat for a small daily newspaper where I learned that while not every story is news, some news carries the seeds for a darned good book. I see books as more than entertainment.

Some books, even those that may be called fiction, are really records of the society that spawned the work. Books show us what it was like in times when we had no electric gadgets to gobble up the minutes and hours of the day. Books offer an antidote for loneliness, and they introduce us to the characters who might not be mentioned in the written histories – but lived those same times in wealth or poverty while the grand adventures and events blew past on an errant breeze.

Books are about ideas, and today’s schoolteachers do their best to interest children in the art of reading, but it seems many of their charges do not care to read in the way we did in another time. Young people care less of the immortal. They want to text and rap. They want the instant thrill of seeing their words on a two-inch screen in fractured language that does not even hint of the grandeur and drama in the classics. But what do they know and what do they miss? I wonder what sort of ideas they find on those little two-inch screens as they forge a new sort of literacy, and if they will sort the wealth found between the pages of a book.

 A Book Is….

  • A book is a journey of ten thousand words – Or something of that sort.
  • A good writer knows less is more and so uses words the common man can understand.
  • A good reader can see the message that comes from somewhere beyond the pen.
  • I love a good book, one with a sound plot and lots of problems to solve.
  • What clever souls those writers are who explore the dim, dark corners of our fears.
  • What clever souls those writers are who shape the thoughts that carry far beyond the day.
  • A fortune bound in paper – and now electric hieroglyphs.
  • Waiting to waken a sleeping mind, and kindle a common flame.

2 Responses to "What is a Book?"

  1. P V Ariel  December 29, 2014 at 11:21

    Hi Terry,
    Oh My… I am a book lover and in short a Book Worm!!! LOL
    As you said from a very young age i started reading books,
    My mother and grandma was voracious readers of course
    those were religious books! that too in my native language
    Malayalam, I followed their path and now because of those
    times reading made me a writer, and though I have not published
    any book of my own but i had the opportunity to translate few books
    from English to Malayalam. I am sure one day my writings will appear
    in a book format!
    This is my first comment here at Angiesdiary, I just joined today
    and I am on a journey to see the fantastic world of Angiesdiary 🙂
    Keep informed
    I am Philip Ariel From India

    Reply
    • Angie  December 30, 2014 at 10:08

      Welcome, Philip, to Angie’s Diary.
      Thanks for your feedback.

      Reply

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