Do you love books? I know I do! Yes, I must admit, I am a bibliophile. I love to buy books, I love to collect books, and I love to be around books. In fact, I love to be in my study, where most of my books are, and just sit there and stare at my books. Perhaps you think me strange. But, I love books.
However, my love for books does not stop at merely collecting them, buying them, wanting to be around them or simply staring at them. I do love reading them as well. I have been reading books since I was 9 years old, and this is due mainly to the influence my step-father (who was a grade school teacher for over 45 years) had on me when I was very young. He instilled in me a desire to read and gave me my first set of books when I was in the third grade—The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Moreover, my step-father influenced the way I think about books and their importance in my education outside of the classroom. Along this line of thought, I think Thomas Carlyle said it best in The Hero as Man of Letters when he declared,
If we think of it, all that a University, or final highest School can do for us, is still but what the first school began doing,—teach us to read. We learn to read, in various languages, in various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of Books. But the place we are to get knowledge, is the Books themselves! It depends on what we read, after all the manner of Professors have done their best for us. The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.
This is so true. I’ve had classes with several talented and well known professors who would constantly say that nothing can substitute for a good library in one’s home. I cannot think of any scholar I have ever read who did not, in one way or the other, write something about the importance of books and learning from books. Most of my favorite fiction authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and others, all have written about the influence that books have had upon their lives. The importance books had on them at a young age, or at some point in their lives is always stressed to one degree or another. So if you too love books, know that you are in good company.
My love for books and my desire to purchase books is so strong that sometimes I will actually forego buying the things I need, such as new shirts, or shoes, etc. to buy books. Of course, this drives my wife up the wall, but to me, clothes are far less important than books. I reason that I can get much more out of several books than I can out several shirts and a pair of shoes. What is more, those shirts and shoes will soon wear out, but my books I’ll have, God willing, until I die. I actually feel the same way Edward Gibbon (author of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire) did when he stated in his work Memoirs of My Life,
From this slender beginning I have gradually formed a numerous and Select library, the foundation of my works and the best comfort of my life both at home and abroad. On the receipt of the first quarter a large share of my allowance was appropriated to my literary wants: I cannot forget the joy with which I exchanged a bank-note of twenty pounds for the twenty volumes of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions; nor would it have been easy by any other expenditure of the same sum to have procured so large and lasting a fund of rational amusement.
Some of my favorite memories are similar in the finding and purchasing of certain volumes which I could hardly wait to buy after I got a paycheck. However, there is nothing like the hunt. Some of the most enjoyable moments in my life are finding out about a certain book and its contents, knowing that this book will be very beneficial and then beginning the hunt. There is a certain amount of pleasure in the actual act of tracking down books, especially those which have been out of print for ages and are very difficult to find. The excitement of such activities is only highlighted by time. What I mean by this is the fact that certain books have taken me months to find, and during that time frame there was an enormous amount of pleasure in attempting to call, visit, and search online or on the street, for that one particular book. Perhaps, this is strange to you, but I am certainly not alone is this odd world of bibliomania: Refer to the book Patience and Fortitude .
There are but a few things that I can think of that give me joy as much as buying and reading a great book. Call me old school but the notion of buying an author’s or scholar’s work on a Kindle is okay, but I am of the mind that actually having the book there in front of me, feeling the grain of the paper pages as I turn them, seeing the print on the actual page, and being able to mark in the margin of the book is much more enjoyable than staring at a small screen in order to read a story. I would much rather have the actual book.
So, if you are a bibliomaniac like me, then know that you are in very good company with a whole host of other well known and not so well know bibliomaniacs throughout history. Even God had His words put into book form! So here’s to the booklovers, may you forever find enjoyment and happiness in your reading and collecting of various books.