Sending my yearly $10 donations to my favorite charity – right now it’s American Library Association for their battle against banning books in the States – I’m thinking about how I wish I could buy books. I am surrounded by good libraries, but I covet books.
I understand there is plenty of money to go around in this world of ours, but its lopsided division means that I am on the low end of the divide, so there’s only so much a girl can spend money on.
In a household of one in the U.S., the poverty high end is $12,880 annually. My Social Security is around $8,000 annually. So, I edit peoples’ manuscripts of novels, memoirs, non-fiction, letters to their lovers and mothers, poetry, and business proposals; in other words, anything that a person thinks he or she needs help on grammatically, syntactically, technically (spelling, punctuation), word usage, general storyline or point. I like the job because I can pick and choose on the premise that if the writing is worth it, my business model is “I will make you look as good as I can without changing your voice.” Although I edit books that authors intend to sell, I use the library and the used bookstores to read. Sorry, authors.
Once radio came into our culture full bore during the early 1920s, commentarians (of which I am one; we’re also called pundits, columnists, opinionators, prejudiced and pains in the neck) have been bemoaning the decline of books and book reading. Then came the movie “talkies” followed by TV and the Internet. I do not see that book usage has fallen into a graveyard. I know many who read a book a week if not more. And libraries, which are plentiful, buy millions of books.
Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1455, and by 1500 there were half a million books in owners’ hands.
Unesco estimates that 2.2 million books are published each year; 4 mil if you count the self-published (what used to be called the Vanity Press).
The printing of books changed the world and did so rapidly. In most cases, it also improved the world, improved us and challenged us. I know I could be reading E-books, but until the printing presses go out of business and stop printing and binding our words, I’ll be reading black ink on white paper. There’s nothing as enticing to me as the feel and smell of a library, a bookstore, the stack of books at my bedside. I honor them, always.
To be a book
Think what it means to be a book!
You are the repository of:
- science fictional.
You are the world of truth and of fiction.
And I, your reader,
- caress you
- dine with you
- drink wine with you
- go to bed with you.
and through the years
rest you on my flat
Think what it means to be a book.
What you as a book can do:
Make me weep, laugh, think, rage, throw you across the room, tuck you in my bookcase, lose you under the bed, carry you around the world, create a democracy. . . or a fascist state.
In my devotion
my danger (books have changed life more than once)
I know that books are weapons
ah, even ecstasy.
Books are a delightful society to hang out with
They are an invitation to enter a room and meet weird. wonderful
the quick and the dead.
By the time I am dead
I will have lived not just my one allotted life
But many lives –
As Emma, Scarlet, Penelope, Nora, Anna, Hester Prynne.
By the time I pass on to my own library in the sky
I will have traveled extensively
From Aachen to Zanzibar
From 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Dune
From The Secret Garden to My Secret Garden.
To paraphrase Willy . . .
To all the books I’ve loved before
That have traveled in and out my door
I dedicate this poem
And all that I own
To you . . .and more and more and more . . .
To books galore.