I was recently reading an article on Buzzfeed — where many college students spend some of their free time. I was reading one article that said that 1/5 of children said they would be “embarrassed” if their friends caught them with a book. Many adults admitted to having not read a book at all in the past year. And all the while, Barnes and Nobles is shutting down about 15 bookstores a year.
What is happening?
Books have this incredible ability to transport us to different worlds, take us down different roads to new adventures, and improve our intellect. Sorry friends, but Adventure Time, Spongebob, and even The Walking Dead (one of my favorite shows) will not be able to give as large of an impact on you as a book. You have to put in time and effort to get through a book. You need to be willing to explore a world and imagine it without having a picture of the world.
I’m an old geezer with books. I refuse to get an ereader or something like that because I also value the feeling of turning a page. I enjoy finishing a book, looking at how thick it is and thinking of the effort it took for me to finish, and to see the development of characters, themes, arguments, and just spend some quality time reflecting on the knowledge.
Now obviously, as a historian-in-training I have a historical take on books as well. Books are a great way to look into the past. The secondary sources are rich with primary sources and arguments. It is easier to communicate historical theory through a 200 page book than it is through 30 minutes on Wednesday night. We are able to transport ourselves from 2013, to the context of the book and learn to understand and read into the figures that are being explained. You can turn the pages back and check for references without having to “Be Kind and Rewind.”
Conclusion: Pick up a book. Read it. Learn from it. Don’t let books die. It is cool to read, it is fun to read, it is wise to read.