“Gregorious stayed in the second-hand bookshop a long time. Getting to know a city through the books in it – he had always done that. His first trip abroad as a student had been to London. On the way back to Calais, he had realized that, except for the Youth Hostel, the British Museum and the many bookshops around, he had seen practically nothing of the city. But the same books could also be anywhere else! said the others and shook their heads at all the things he had missed. Yes, but in fact they weren’t anywhere else, he had replied.”
Books take on a life of their own. The books on our shelves are as much an indication of who we are than anything else. The books we pass on to other people are gifts of wisdom or worlds worth a visit. The books we stumble upon in a thrift shop, or that we blow dust off in a hotel lobby on the other side of the world are as serendipitous as turning a corner to find an amazing view or a chance reunion with an old friend.
Sure, we can read stuff on iPads and Kindles and whatever other electronic device someone deigns to invent over the next few years. But, it is a sad indication of where we’re going if anyone who considers themselves to be even remotely enlightened reckons it is OK for them to replace actual books.
Call me old-fashioned, but don’t we have a responsibility to be old-fashioned about a few things?