Books seem to congregate around me and fill my life. They can be found in every nook and cranny of my house and my life. Why wouldn’t I want their stories to be a part of me every day when they are what I live and breathe? That’s what it seems like sometimes. In today’s world, you can hear people speaking of how much they hate reading or why books are no longer important.
Why are they so important to the world today?
The most common response to telling friends and family that I am an English major who wants to be in the publishing business for my career is that the literature industry has to churn out English majors to keep the cycle going.
The cycle of readers who want to get into the book publishing industry to create more readers who want to get the cycle going. When I first heard this, I scoffed at the ignorance. The man who made this comment at me seemed too caught up in his world to realize that all of the books on his and his children’s shelves were the product of someone like me who felt the passion to share a story and the written word. The rest of his argument against the written word consisted of every going online now. I politely listened but declined to give my opinion.
So why are books, hard print or ebooks, so important in our world today and for the future? The few conclusions that I have come to are simple but essential.
If you have stumbled upon my blog, then there is the chance that you are a part of the book community online. Here I have found many friends, readers, and writers. When I was growing up, there was no one around me who shared my love of books besides librarians, who are cool, but they are not my peers. Flash forward to the digital age that we have now entered into where people across all countries and all around the globe have found common interests. The book community niche online is so powerful, inspiring me as a writer and as a reader. It spreads the word of newly released books, allows smaller or newer authors to be seen, and discussions of books to travel across the amazing digital codes that connect us to other humans. This gives bookworms, like me, a place to feel at home and accepted.
Except for oral tradition, which is not very reliable for exact details, how would major history even be recorded and shared with today’s generation? How would we be able to remember Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or how the French Revolution ended?
Think of the game Telephone that you probably played as a kid. One person says a phrase and it gets whispered into everyone’s ears until the final person says it out loud. When the phrase has reached the last person, little words have changed here or there, usually to no one’s fault.
Oral traditions are like this: some parts get embellished or forgotten completely while the story might have changed some. Hundreds of years later and the story will most likely be different from the original because there is no written proof of what actually happened. Without books and written stories and words, then historical accounts might not matter. And the old saying that goes “if you don’t know history you’re doomed to repeat it” will probably come true.
Like in the history reasoning, books allow us to communicate and connect with people through the ages. Want to know what it was like to live in the American 1920s? There are tons of books on it. So even though you can’t actually time travel, you can in your mind because of a book! Not everyone can live the same life and have the same life experiences, which narrows our world and our view of the world. But, through reading, I can understand the story of how a Holocaust survivor struggled through the loss of their family and how it affected them, know their emotions and feel the struggle of surviving. Through reading, I can experience the Titanic sinking by reading a survivors account of the events. I can feel the emotions and pain that the characters in a story are experiencing and have empathy for them. Without books and reading, the world might fall into a place where people don’t want to understand why another feels this way or connect experiences. This communication is essential for the survival of human beings.
We need them. Period.
Everyone has read a book. It’s that simple. At one time or another, everyone in the world has wandered into a bookstore or seen a book at the supermarket, picked it up, and has read it, either out of enjoyment or curiosity, or just wanting to prove that they can outside of school! Everyone has at least one book in their home or office.
At the end of the day, there are so many reasons why books are still needed and very important in the world. Preserving cultures and histories, sharing ideas, creating friendships, and for enjoyment. Without books and the written word, the civilized world that we know today would disintegrate and millions of years of progress would be washed away.
That is why we need books.
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Thank you for reading this short essay. This was inspired by events and conversations that I have had as of late. Books are important to me and my life. Let me know your thoughts of this essay and how books are important in your own life.