For the Love of Books

Suri Smith ‘13, Columnist

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I am a self-professed bibliophile—a lover of books. No matter how small a space I’m in, I will likely find some way to fill it with books. I have always loved stories, but books are far more than just vessels for stories; they’re a tactile experience. The familiar smell of bound paper and ink, caressing a page between fingers, eyes drinking in the words on the page, making up voices for characters when reading aloud—the act of reading a book is an all-around pleasure. Bibliophilia is the reason why I am certain that electronic books will never make bound books obsolete (Though the dictionary has tried to tell me that this is not a word and that “bibliophily” is the correct noun form for “love of books”, but the dictionary should learn to appreciate the clearly more awesome form).

E-books are not terrible inventions, and I don’t intend to crusade against them here. I do own a Kindle. It is a nifty device, though I use it sparingly. It comes in handy for certain things, particularly when I need to travel light or get quick access to the wide selection of free books available online. It is wonderful for collecting stories, which I love on an equal level with books. Yet I would never, ever replace my bookshelf with the Kindle. If I am considering whether or not to purchase an e-book, I always ask myself if at some point in the future I will prefer to have that book in physical form. Most of the time, the answer is yes, especially because I consider my bookshelves an extension of my personality. I invite others to peruse my shelves, and yes, I will probably want to do the same to yours. An e-reader does not jump out at the viewer with colorful spines and familiar titles, arranged according to your fancy. My shelves are organized in places and haphazardly overflowing in others, some of it intentional and some of it not. At home, pulling a certain book off that certain spot on the shelf can evoke years-old memories. The black-and-white list of titles on the Kindle is incredibly impersonal by comparison. E-books do not possess the same inviting quality.

We bibliophiles are not likely to stop amassing our collections anytime soon. Books matter in and of themselves, not as a means to an end. I am surrounded by the books I loved as a child, the books I love now, and one day I will be surrounded by the books that I will love in the future. My reading list is miles long and always growing, so I’ll probably never reach the end, nor would I want to. Reading is a lifelong occupation, fueled by the special magic held by books themselves.