Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Is Good Food

What do books mean to you?

Whoa. Ever since I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, books have been even more important to me. For those not familiar with Fahrenheit 451, it’s set in a future time when firefighters are rendered obsolete due to the invention of fireproofing technology, so they are re-engineered by the government to collect and burn books instead. (How’s that for a synopsis, eh?) I wonder how Bradbury would deal with the advent of digital technology and the scanning of books and print documents into electronic storage… Is Ray still with us? (A quick check of Wikipedia says Ray is a fine 89…)

I’ve always loved books. They are conduits. Wormholes. Spaceships. They can take you through space and time to places real or imagined. They are like God. Powerful. Unlimited.

I remember loving books from a very young age. My mom enrolled me in a book club when I was 2 or so, and I’d get a book, full of colors and dreams, every week (I think. I’ll let her do the fact checking on all that.) I still have some of those books.

In the 1st grade, we were to read as many books as we could for a contest– each student had a “bookworm” where the teacher would write the titles of the books each had read. I filled up my worm so that she had to add segments to the tail for additional space for titles. I didn’t read the most in the class, but I read a lot.

When my grandfather died, after my dad settled the estate, he gave my sister and I a sum of money that we were to use in a meaningful manner, to honor our grandparents (Grandma Rose had passed several years earlier.) I took the opportunity to go book shopping, investing in titles that I thought would stick with me in my life. It was a glorious shopping spree, and I still had most of the money left. But I had filled my arms with enough wisdom and intellect to travel the universe and return with stories of my own. I still have most if not all of those books I bought that day, and although I haven’t read them all, I still intend to.

Books for me are an investment. They’re like investing in stocks and bonds. If carefully selected, books can not only hold their value, but increase exponentially. Because they invest in the reader, in the form of knowledge and imagination.

Books are powerful, indeed. Why do you think fascist governments ban and burn them? Not because they’re offensive, vulgar, anti-Christ, or whatever reason they try to use– but because they give power to the people. The written word is an immensely powerful tool in foraging for truth, resonating with communities, and fortifying opinions. It sparks thought and allows for self reflection and development. It is the stuff of revolution.

So books mean freedom to me. A book is freedom.


Gerri said...

I remember those book club books...I yawned a lot as I read them to you over and over again! But, you did love them and I am glad you still enjoy reading.

I just finished the book Santa left in my stocking..."Every Last Cuckoo" by Kate Maloy. A good read about a woman who reinvents herself after the sudden death of her spouse after almost sixty years of marriage.

Reading is a wonderful escape, but a wealth of wisdom also. Thanks for a wonderful blog entry!

Lula said...

In my roles as a parent and a teacher, I rank kindling a love of reading very high on my list of goals. Books have given me so much to feel and think about as I have grown up that I want my students and kids to experience books with the same pleasure and interest.

I remember doing the bookworm too. We also had a library on the way home from my elementary school and I would spend many afternoons hanging out in there.

Reading your entry made me reminisce about some of my favorite books from childhood. Thanks for recalling these old friends.

Suzy said...

We didn't have a book worm but I remember a reading club at the library in the summer. I would go and check out books all the time. I still love reading - all kinds of stories - both fiction and non fiction. It is an escape to wonderful new worlds.

You will have to show my which books you bought with that money so I can read them, too.

Deb said...

Ray Bradbury would be proud. :)