Don't ignore the wealth of books that are open to you at a local library, says Bob Greene
By Bob Greene
Are you a person who loves to read books? If so, you’re set for life.
It’s one of those things most of us seldom pause to think about. After all, much of the news about the book publishing business has been kind of grim lately. The Borders bookstore chain is shutting down, thus erasing from the American scene more than 600 big, often beautiful, book-crammed edifices, perfect for wandering around and browsing. The digital revolution, as exciting as it is, has made the publishing industry exceedingly nervous about the economics of its enterprise, and about what will become of traditional books, the ones printed on paper and bound between covers. Stand-alone book review sections in newspapers have, with a few exceptions, all but disappeared.
So what, exactly, is there to be cheery about if you’re a book lover?
Just this: There are so many wonderful books that have been written over the centuries, books that will thrill you and make you cry and change you and bring laughter to you and keep you up all night. Even if you did nothing else for the rest of your life but read, you would only be able to get to the most infinitesimal percentage of books that you would be destined to adore. They’re just waiting for you — waiting to be found, right now.
And in most cases, even in these rugged and scary economic times, they’re free.
“The serendipity, the discovery inherent in finding books on a public library shelf,” Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, was saying to me the other afternoon. “The act of walking alongside a shelf of books with their spines facing out toward you, and reaching for one and starting to look through it….”
The cult and culture of newness in our society has made us too willing to believe that “new” automatically equates to “good.”