“A home without books is a body without soul.” ~ Cicero
About three months ago, I was visiting relatives at their new place. Approaching the last room, I noticed there wasn’t any sort of small library—or even a shelf holding a book or two.
The shelves were empty, and I guessed they were still deciding on what to do with them. Being an absolute lover of reading, I suggested they get books, or build a small library—the couches were especially perfect for reading sessions.
When I said this, one of my relatives pointed a finger to the television next to me and said, “Who needs a book when you have a TV?”
Lost for words, I stood still.
In my family, we were raised on books. You can find a library in every room you enter; books literally invade our space. I consider books an essential part of everyone’s life, and I respect and admire anyone with a book in his hand.
To glimpse people with books is soul-elevating, and extremely promising.
In my opinion, televisions, electronic books, cellphones, computers and any other form of modern technology can never take the place of a book. If you asked me why, I would say stones can never replace diamonds.
Here are five reasons why I think books are irreplaceable:
When I was still at school, I used to feverishly wait to buy the books for the upcoming semester. In class, I would stick my head between the fresh pages and keep on smelling them ’til I was out of breath.
The truth is, there is a pleasure in books that no computer or cellphone can replace. It’s about the feel of the hard cover, the sound of turning the pages, the smell of paper and the ability to hold the entire book in my lap like a newborn baby. I even enjoy when my eyes grow tired and the letters become blurry.
It’s also a pleasure to fall asleep with a book in hand, and to wake up next to one. At least a book doesn’t have any radiation exposure that might cause our system harm—it’s completely safe!
2. Library Enjoyment.
I always say, “Put me in a library, and I can live there forever.” For me, visiting a library is pure joy. Friends who frequently accompany me know that it’s almost impossible for me to leave in less than one or two hours.
Frankly, shopping for a tablet is way different than shopping for a book. A library is a representation of the past, the present and the future. It’s a place where the living and the dying are joined together on shelves. There is an inexplicable satisfaction in walking between the shelves, smelling the books, reading the titles and touching the covers.
Libraries are like heaven filled with words. Wherever we look we can see letters in different sizes and shapes. I consider experiencing a library similar to experiencing enlightenment. No thoughts; no mental or emotional distractions—only peace of mind.
3. A Tribute to the Past.
The world today has come a long way in the history of writing. From the Egyptian hieroglyphs to the Indus script, this earth has witnessed many indigenous ways of writing before the keyboard was invented. Before the invention of the pen, the ancients wrote with a quill and ink.
Sadly, the usage of computers nowadays has altered the history of writing. We no longer appreciate where we are today. Thus, I reckon that reading a book is a form of paying tribute to the past.
Books are a bridge that links us to all the great writers. They remind us of Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Thoreau and so many other authors and poets who are an unforgettable gift to the world.
4. Freedom of Choice and Discipline.
I associate reading a book with the freedom of choice. When we go to buy a book, we know what we want, and we basically get it. If we don’t like what we have seen, we deliberately walk out of the library empty-handed.
Technology, however, has limited this freedom. Personally, if I go online to search for something specific, I end up staying on the internet for at least two hours when all I needed was five minutes. Same goes for watching television; instead of watching one movie, we end up watching two.
The reason? Modern technology is limitless, and humans are greedy by nature. On the other hand, a book is limited. It creates discipline in our life and a practice for choosing what we want—not what is available to us.
5. A Best Friend.
For some, a dog is a best friend; for me, a book is. A book has the capability of acting as a loyal partner. It is our property that can never leave us. We hold it, we fall asleep with it, we take it with us to other countries, we read it and we feel every word.
A relationship between a book and a person is an unbreakable one. There are books I have read that I can never forget; they work as a daily reminder in my head, and as eminent teachers.
Moreover, books are memories from actual friends. I am awed by the vintage books that my mother owns, some of which are memories from old friends she never saw again.
Realistically, we can’t live without modern technology. We can’t deny that it makes our lives a whole lot easier. But I think that we should never forget the presence of a book.
A book is a friend, a lover and a part of us.
It is the only bond that connects us with the past and builds the hopes of the future.
Hold a cell phone and carry a laptop. But never fail to put a book in your bag. It works wonders!
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Toby Israel