The Case for Books…..

I am a serial reader. That is my confession, made unapologetically. I am hopelessly addicted to the feel, smell and comfort that words on paper provide. There are few pastimes where hoarding is respected and the collection of books is one of them. When life grants a pause, I choose to read, something, anything, rather than sit idly by with a brain in neutral. Let’s have a look at this addiction and think for a bit about the direction we are headed. We are at a fork in the road and must choose between technology and the way of the dinosaur. The antiquated Dewey Decimal system is slowly being replaced by a keystroke on a battery powered piece of computer technology. Technology is wonderful, but it can not replace a book.

The smell of a book is intoxicating. The bookbinders glue, fresh paper and the promise of something new and exciting is a part of the euphoria. My concern is that one day, our descendants will pick up an IPad rather than the family Bible to see who married whom back in the day. Already, our children are shopping for school with the latest in technology being the prime mover of the back to school shoppers. In the world of hard science and technology, a printed book is obsolete before the ink dries on a printed page. I understand this phenomenon, but still……

I am currently reading a wonderful book, written in a style that evokes true emotion in the reader. It is entitled “Tears In The Darkness”, authored by Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman. This book chronicles an event that history cannot erase, the Bataan Death march. I am a combat veteran, however my experiences were a walk in the park compared to the tribulations of those subjected to the inhumanity of the Japanese during this event. The authors are gifted with the ability to tell this story in such a way that you are profoundly and emotionally moved by the plight of our men who were compelled to surrender in the largest mass surrender in our military history. You feel the rage toward the Japanese and at the same time develop an understanding of the way they were trained and their reverence to the Emperor. The morphine induced euthanasia of our dying soldiers by our doctors, themselves dying from the conditions that defy human comprehension, is moving and enraging. The indignity of death, under these circumstances, is palpable. Forgive the comparison, but the faux rage expressed by the folks trying to tear our country down, is disgusting when you consider the hell these men went through to guarantee that privilege. These events would be lost to history were it not for the printed words of skilled writers who have captured the essence of this horror and placed it in a book. I will never again look at the jacket on this printed treasure without saying a prayer for those who were participants in this unspeakable tragedy. Such is the power of the printed word.

The magic of a good book…..

What about the fork in the road? I think it a disservice to not encourage the reading of books and other print media by the generations that are coming up today. Science aside, the world today belongs to folks who can communicate verbally and with the pen. What better way to master these skills than books, periodicals and other forms of print media. A newspaperman who I had great respect for once told me that print media is pure communication. The words cannot be taken back and live forever. You have done your job when the reader feels the point you make rather than simply sees the point.

I’ll take a book any day over a tablet or pad. When we hit that fork, I’ll be treading in the tracks of the dinosaurs, with a book in my bag and a smile on my face!

Have a good weekend!

SR

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