Dying…

I was in the charity shop this afternoon trying to find some interesting books to read finding none and I thought: “How sad.”

How sad it is to see those empty shelves that used to house hundreds of books one could get lost in it for hours at times. Now, they are gone. I went to a lot of such places this weekend in the hope of finding some suitable reading materials but what’s on offer were so little compare to couple of years ago.

There was a time that books were everywhere. You could not turn a corner without bumping into a bookstore, but in my city alone, several of those shops have closed their doors due to low patronage. It breaks my heart to witness another dying culture.

 Once upon a time when browsing in second hand bookstores, not only customers were spoilt for choice they could be selective as well for there were products in abundance; now, that privilege is a thing of the past. I began to notice the decline in offer when I failed to find my favourite authors among the selection. First, I settled for finding good books. It doesn’t matter who wrote them as long as the stories are interesting enough to keep me busy. I am a voracious reader anyway, and I can consume great quantity of materials on so short time that if I am going to purchase all my reading pleasure brand new, I will be soon on the edge of bankruptcy. That’s why I frequent charity shops to sustain my needs.

When even good books became rarity, I talked myself into buying paperbacks that are “good enough.” That was also the time I considered going to a library. But I hate rules and I dislike deadlines and I tend to abuse my books by bringing them everywhere and not using book markers because I tend to lose them, I fold a corner of a page instead. Underlining the passages I like and highlighting them with coloured markers are some of my sinful preoccupation while reading. I think no library would appreciate that.

Now, even mediocre books are very hard to find. Especially if one is looking for reading materials that are written in English but living in a country that does not have English as principal language. I am aware that there is this thing called E-Book, and that is about the only thing I know about it. Frankly, I am not interested knowing also. At least, not yet. Not as long as I can find printed materials to read. It reminds me of the time that I stupidly refused to change my nationality out of principle. Till someone opened my eyes to the possibilities and advantages of acquiring one and to be honest, I had no choice. Not, if I want to see my children growing up.

Why I am not interested in using E- Book? Well… there are so many reasons, but the most important of them all is because I believe that the ultimate reading experience involves holding an actual book. Something you can smell (I love smelling books, old or new) caress the pages… there is something erotic about turning those folios (or leaves if you preferred) books turn me on and I unwittingly impart this knowledge to my ex who never hesitated to use it against me whenever he deemed appropriate.

One of my secret fantasies is to be locked up in a vast library (or a museum) for a week, living side by side with all of those magnificent stories. It’s better than travelling sometimes and certainly preferable than having sex. I imagine gliding my hand across their spines, feeling the textures, the hardness, embracing their aroma… the thoughts that thousands, probably millions of people handled them, found knowledge and solace between their pages is a humbling experience.

But my first love is dying. Dying in the hands of modern society. The same society who used to respect and recognize the value and power of printed materials by making them available for everyone who seeks to be educated and advance in any field. The same society who became knowledgeable with the help of books is now ignoring and casting them away in exchange for modern technology.  I know that the only constant in this world is changes but can we at least preserve some of our most prominent culture/tradition/heritage/whatever? A lot of those are disappearing in the name of progress which makes me question if we are really improving.

I am aware that there are great buildings that houses rare volumes. But I am not talking about those. I am talking about the accessibility of tangible educational reading materials to ordinary mortals in the comfort of their own homes, in their own tempo. I rather get rid of those fashion glossy magazines and gossip tabloids in favour of bringing back the good old books. And comics and snail mails, etc. But that is for another post…  

Now, I’m scared. I’m scared that one day the only way I can see books is from behind protected glass, admiring it from a distance, which makes me think of pictures of Dinosaurs and certain animals that you can only see from afar in the zoo.

Isn’t it a sad, sad affair?

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43 thoughts on “Dying…”

  1. Great post! I hear where you are coming from and it made a very vivid impression when you compared books with dinasours and someday having to see them behind a glass.(Very sad indeed!) But I do enjoy ebooks a LOT. I get most of them for free and others for $1.99 or less. If you become interested, let me know and I will give you those websites.

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    1. I think one of these days I have no choice but to embrace the new technology. And if ever, you will be the first to know I promised. Thanks for the offer and guess I will need them a lot sooner than I like. Appreciate the visit. Enjoy the rest of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh a kindred spirit! Yes it is sad, I agree! I too am a voracious reader and love the feel of books in your hand and turning the pages. Loved your illustration about the dinosaurs, does seem to be moving that direction. Will confess tho, that I am in love with my Kindle!! I kept saying I wasn’t going to give in, but then my husband got me a Paper White kindle for my bday and its been one of my best gifts ever! Now I have a book with me wherever I go! As Priceless Joy said I can get Free and really cheap books. Plus the paperwhite is about the size of a book and its all white, so it really makes you think you are holding and looking at a book. You can underline too 🙂 But still nothing replaces a actual book:) Good post!

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    1. I have a collection of really old books like the pictures here with my post. A while ago I tried to sell them because we moved to another house and the space cannot accommodate them. Now, i think I will hang unto it for a while longer if not forever. I know I have to succumb to the lure of E-Book one day because I have no choice if I want to continue reading. But till then…

      Thanks for passing by and confirming that the E in e-book doesn’t stand for evil 🙂

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  3. I turn the corners of books down too, usually to highlight an idea I want to be able to find again. Sometimes I find a corner turned down and have no idea which idea it was.

    And I’ve never had an e-reader – the only thing is sometimes I read posts and new stories on my phone so I feel like it’s perhaps not such a big matter of principle as it used to be, though I can’t imagine reading a book on my phone.

    If people show me round their houses, I often feel embarrassed as it doesn’t seem necessary, but if they let me explore their library, I’d be happy.

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    1. “Sometimes I find a corner turned down and have no idea which idea it was.”

      Sounds familiar 🙂
      I explore people bookcases too, reading the contents with my head hanging sideways I often forget the host/ess is talking to me. Embarrassing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kindred souls indeed! I sell books online. I had two shops, so now have books everywhere . Just sayin…. most of my sales are books from the 40s – 70s, but I have all eras, all genres. I loved reading your post…books are my life. 🙂

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    1. I’m glad to hear someone is making an effort. Keep it up. I turn to libraries now. It’s good that the new protocol here for taking out books is one library card for the whole province. So, no matter where I am, I will be okay.

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      1. This is one reason I now work on my blog…my words (for better or worse) will theoretically go on in cyberspace forever. I meant certain books and other possessions that I want passed down … I just give it to them now. I don’t have any money to speak of, so any inheritance they get will be more in the form of ephemeral things like love of books and writing, and general world-view. 🙂

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      2. I find them better than material things and will stretch further, these things you called ephemeral. And blogging is one way of leaving a a living legacy.

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      3. yes, certainly. My second youngest granddaughter, who is 27, told me I was the coolest person in the world. That is the highest compliment anyone ever paid me. What I want to leave them all is appreciation and understanding of the higher good…whatever that may be. 🙂

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      4. Oh I love your blog now more than ever. I like the theme and layout, and the photos. lovely…and I love he Thanatpsis (I think) poem. A friend of mine recited it back in the old day when we had to recite a poem in high school. 🙂

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      5. Thank you very much for positive feedback. Ah, the things we had to recite back in high school. For the elective Speech we had to declaim Faustus, How do I love Thee and Captain, oh, my Captain…

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      6. Captain oh Captain! That was MY choice (or assignment, I forget which) I didn’t know that was about Abraham Lincoln untile years–maybe decades–later.

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  5. Thank you for showing us how important books are and how technology is taking over. I really enjoy reading a book rather than one on a Kindle, iPad or another device. I love the sound of the pages, the feel of the book and how it smells. I hope books never die.

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  6. This is how I feel about books. Exactly the same sadness and love. I was always surrounded by books, more than 500 in my personal library, I can imagine myself to be locked somewhere without any devise but books.
    Thank you for this great article and may the books be always part of our lives. REAL BOOKS.

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