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Only one

September 18, 2010

In today’s 24/7 information overloaded American society, it is hard to imagine having just one book or maybe two. Libraries (yes, remember them? where you can read books for free!), Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, not to mention the  few locally owned bookstores remaining around the country, hold infinite numbers of books and other publications. We can even skip the actual book part and simply download the content onto our Kindle, Nook or other reader.

Not that many years ago, in my grandparents’ lives or maybe your great-grandparents’ lives, books were scarce. I am reading one now, “The Book Thief” that I highly recommend, about a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. She somewhat accidentally became the “book thief” and discovered a love of books and reading. Yet, she has just four books at the point where I am in the story.

When the wealthy mayor’s wife offers one to the girl from her collection, the girl declines. She recognizes she has enough and she can read them again…for the 5th, 6th or 7th time. Imagine!

Many books published today are not worthy of multiple reads. Meant for quick and easy entertainment only, our minds would dull quickly if we had to re-read these.

But some, like “The Book Thief” and “The Secret Life of Bees” and a few select others in my experience, I should read many times. These authors use our language to paint stunning images and I know I cheat myself by not committing them to memory. If I read them again and again, these pictures become etched in my memory and the flow of the words enriches my vocabulary.

Perhaps like much in America, bounty hinders us rather than helps us. Easy access to too much food has made us fat. Disposable products have made us wasteful. And a galaxy-sized library full of titles has diminished our love of literary grandeur. A shame…

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