Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hope in the future of reading

Since the advent of the movies and radio, naysayers have been prognosticating the end of reading and of books. They have never had more to work with than they do now in their forecasts of doom. From early recordings and the first crude films into the ubiquity of TV and ever more dazzling, colorful media wonders, it has seemed like reading only becomes progressively less and less vital. Even the Internet, which started out so fundamentally text based, ceaselessly marches towards being a more visual and auditory medium. I am increasingly a dinosaur here, plugging away on an endless blog of writing while the very meaning of the word blog steadily leaves me behind exactly as it leaves the written word behind.

But despair not, oh defenders of reading! I work at a library. And though we have 798 computers which are nearly always occupied with people staring hypnotized at monitors showing no text whatsoever, or where what small text there is sits there as mere signage or ornamentation, we still have books. We have books full of words. One might think no one checks these relics out anymore, but I just shelved a cart of them that had been checked out. A whole cart of books!

"Ah!" The naysayers cry. "But they were probably all generic thrillers and junky romances!"

Well, mostly. But there was a genuine great book there on that cart. Yes, just today I shelved the classic book Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis, an awesome Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a doctor and science. A book that I love and hope to read some day.

"Ha!" The naysayers cry. "But whoever checked out this Arrowsmith was probably just doing it to look smart and never actually read it."

And that is where I know they are wrong. I opened that copy of the immortal Arrowsmith and I can joyfully guarantee that our local library patron read every word of that book.

"You deceive yourself! You can't possibly know that!" The naysayers scoff.

And now I have the naysayers exposed in their hubris, for my proof is undeniable. Every single page of that copy of Arrowsmith was smeared with fresh food stains.

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