08 December 2008

Letter to the Editor: On Being an Antiquarian

Last January I started a quest to read 100 books. I am not going to reach my goal; currently my grand total stands at 51. I hope to finish the year strong with another 6 to 7 titles. The process of picking out the books to read was a lot of fun, some were well planned, others were spur of the moment, and others were serendipitous selections from footnotes, reviews I stumbled upon or books laid out on the table as you walk in the Brown Bookstore.

But this post is not meant to be the final reflection on this journey (wait till 31.Dec). Today I want to share my letter to the editor I have yet to send in to the NY Times. (Full disclosure: I harbor a desire to make it into the NY Times, I have calculated my chances are best from one of following routes: marry someone famous or who is loaded and wants their announcement printed; or by writing a letter to the editor). I have yet to marry "that" couple and have yet to have the editorial board accept my observational deposits.

Last week James Gleick wrote an Op-Ed piece titled: How to Publish Without Perishing. It was a great piece and got me thinking about the primacy of books. (Thus my lead in paragraph). The article also forced to admit the sinking feeling that I am becoming an antiquarian. I love books, the feel of them in my hands, the sound of pages rubbing together, their durability (you can drop them, throw them, mark them, and it is really cold: burn them), and their communal aspect. Think about the times you have read a passage from a book to someone or a group, think about passing a book around for others to read a passage for themselves, think about sharing a book with another, think about finding a used book in a old book shop.

I love the availability of digital media but I have yet to see how it can fully supersede print media. After all, what happens when the power goes out?


hawk said...

I love books too. I've been reading the Shaara World War II trilogy. I found out today that he has only written two of the three. I'll be reading The Atlantic tonight. Caitlin Flanagan (I'm on love) has written a nice piece about the reading habits of teenage girls. Apparently they like vampires. Anyway, she highly recommends Twilight.

Howard said...

What I miss most about books is being able to mark them up with notes. So far, no one has offered a good parallel in the digital domain.