This I Believe

Mary - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on January 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in the power of the book.

The blank, characterless screen stares back at me mockingly. I know how to type a word document and research things on the internet, but this is the extent of my knowledge of computers: the impersonal machine does not evoke any sort of feeling within me. However, books have a power that no machine can embody. The varied covers, fresh-off-the-press smell, and tangible nature make them far superior to any laptop that will inevitably catch a virus, run out of battery, or delete the paper over which one slaved for three hours. When I snuggle up with a perfectly worn book, I can feel its history and character. As Jane Eyre returns to Mr. Rochester, Elizabeth discovers her love for Mr. Darcy, and Anna Karenina’s life slowly falls to pieces, I am part of their story. The best computer is still only a machine, while the most ragged book is like a dear old friend.

I am part of a family with a collective book fetish. We live by the credo on my favorite bookmark which states, “A room without books is as a body without a soul.” When I was little, my mom would take my brother and me to the library where we would both check out as many books as we could carry. When we went to the beach, one of the things we looked forward to the most was our visit to a small bookstore called “Just Books.” After a hard day of playing in the ocean, we piled into a car and headed to the bookstore where we spent hours perusing the wooden shelves filled with books that smelled of freshly cut paper mixed with the salty ocean air. At home in Birmingham, an old, used bookstore, Reed Books, was my favorite. The canvas-bound books were old and decaying with age, and often had writing in the front cover. Though some might see this as a defect, it intrigued me: the books had a story themselves. I would often make up a glamorous life for this faceless person whose name was penciled in the front of the book.

Books never run out of battery, never become outdated, and snuggle perfectly into a warm bed on a cold and rainy evening. Every good book is a little, tangible piece of the best this world has to offer. I believe in the power of the dog-eared page over the power of the microchip. I believe in the enduring power of the book.