This I Believe

Kathryn - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Entered on August 28, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I Believe

I believe in books. The feel of them. The smell of them. The stackability of them. The colors, and the silence of them filling space.

Some say that books are going out of fashion. The youngsters, they like their e-world: e-books, e-zines, ipods, IMs. They like to hold words in their little tiny boxes, like to flick them back and forth to one another as quickly as they can, with coded shortcuts and abbreviations. They like the brightness of their screens, the pocketability of their Blackberrys.

And it’s true – all that fast talk makes you feel alive, skittish as a colt, able and nimble and well-equipped . But I don’t believe all that fast talk will be replacing books any time soon.

Books are something you grow up into. They are what you want when you are ready for depth and complexity, when your sensuality has deepened and you long for the touch of your fingers on the rich texture of good paper. Books are kaleidoscopic. No matter how many times you look at a page, or from how many perspectives you enter a chapter, a book will never be the same twice. Books are to electronic media what living color is to black and white. When you read a book it is like sitting in a room with the light coming in the window. The room looks different during every hour of the day – golden in the morning, white at noon, dusky and muted as night creeps up on you.

Books open deep wells in you, and you can find yourself weeping when you least expect it, or laughing out loud in an empty room. There are stories in books, peoples’ stories. You can see the big picture of those stories in a book, all the layers of them, all the seemingly inconsequential tangents. In fact, books can draw you into themselves and their stories so convincingly, that you almost forget you do not inhabit those pages yourself.

This doesn’t happen when you are looking at a screen of any kind. Don’t ask me why. It just doesn’t. Your eyes stop at the surface of the screen, and your imagination sits on its haunches and waits restlessly right along with them, like a dog on a hot day, waiting for a command to fetch a bird from a cool farm pond.

As long as there are people who love growing up, people who can hardly wait to see the other side of the hill, people who love to dive deep below the surface of things, there will be books. As long as there are people who love to savor more than they love to hurry, there will be books. As long as there are people who are only satisfied when life is lived to its fullest, there will be books.

This I believe.