Alice Walker wrote a book called ‘Horses make the landscape look more beautiful’
And I agree, but would further say that if you don’t have access to a horse, books make a room look more beautiful. Books and everything that they represent: information, entertainment, anger, love and joy, are portable receptacles of our deepest feelings, thoughts, hopes and sometimes horrors. A lot for a small paper package to encompass, don’t you think?
Of course, we now live in a digital age and all the things I’ve just said are also available on your tablet or smart phone. Which is also portable, but can be linked up with a global library of even more books, more ideas, more knowledge. Which sounds fantastic, but is it? A good book can hold your attention for minutes, sometimes hours and, if it’s a real page turner, most of a whole day! The difficulty with the digital world is it can be one of constant distraction while you’re reading that page turner.
Unlike a digital copy of a book on your smartphone, your new physical paperback from your favourite author won’t call you after two minutes and ask what you want for your birthday. It doesn’t remind you that you haven’t made your doctor’s appointment or told the school your daughter has chicken pox and won’t be in class today. Or notify you that your bank account is now overdrawn and needs attention.
In case I’m sounding very anti-tech, I love computers. I love their potential and that of the internet. I listen to book podcasts, I read and write e-books, I watch adaptations of books on streaming services online and enjoy them. But I also love physical books and don’t see a problem with using both.
In my twenties I worked for a large publishing house and there were lots of discussions about the the ethics of the working conditions for workers printing the actual books (basically they weren’t paid much) and the environmental problem of paper waste from making so many books. Publishers print lots of books, even now when all the major publishing houses also offer ebooks.
The environmental impact of so many books being created is a complicated subject that I don’t pretend to be an expert on, but fortunately writers like Lucy Siegel in the Guardian newspaper did a short report on this in 2013 which I’m attaching here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jan/06/should-i-buy-an-e-reader
In my own little terraced house, currently shared with my partner and son, we have loads of books and are constantly having to review how to store them (shelves are best) and what to get rid of. We take books we can’t keep to friends (who have their own book storage problems) charity shops or sell on Ebay. Not for any great profit I admit, but it’s nice to know you’ve helped someone to get a book they really wanted. Or via Ziffit.com, also not for a great profit (are you seeing a pattern here?) but it’s part of The World of Books Group and I myself have bought second hand books from them. As such, I was happy to read what The World of Books says:
The World of Books Group purpose: A circular economy, for-profit company that supports charities and protects the planet by enabling more goods to be reused.
It really cheered me up to read this because I have always tried to live by the reuse, recycle and reduce philosophy, and now there seems to be more sustainable channels to do this. Even for books!
Some of the books I’m currently reading (I’m never reading just one book) are:
Please note, I’ve linked to the titles places where you can buy them, but obviously it’s always better to get them from a physical bookshop if you can!
I am also listening to a BBC Sounds podcast ‘Murder Must Advertise’ An adaptation of a Dorothy L. Sayers murder mystery title with her aristocratic amateur sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey. Think Bertie Wooster, but with brains. If you like Agatha Christie I think you’ll like Dorothy’s work too. This one is set in the 1930’s at an advertising agency and Sayers did herself work in one of those as an advertising copywriter, so she knew her stuff about that work and her writing about that is quite funny! Worth a listen.