RULE # 121: Buy and read books

Rule #121: Buy and Read Books

Today Borders Books filed for bankruptcy. They may restructure their debt and come out of it. or they may just die like so many other book stores have.

Writing a entry blog on a web site might seem to be an odd forum for the dissemination of a rule designed to encourage my children to read and own books. In many way my use of this electronic medium may be seen as a  contributing cause of the death of the the print media. But I argue that the exchange of ideas in a blog, and all other electronic media including the ebook format, is much different experience than reading the printed word.

When noted fictional ghost hunter Dr. Egon Spengler said in 1984, “print is dead” he may have been warning us of the days of ebooks, ipads and the blogosphere. All the statistics point to a sharp decline in printed matterial over the last 5 years, while at the same time there is an ever increasing rise of content from electronic media.

In the 1993 Jurassic Park movie the mathamitican Dr. Ian Malcom tried to describe what was wrong with using the science of genics to create dinosaurs;

I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here: it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility… for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox

The problem with my chosen media is the same as Dr. Malcom described,  it is too easy and too accessible, it requires no forethought or consideration. You have a thought….boom.. 2 minutes later you publish it.

I think only in the 1440’s when Johannes Gutenberg rolled off the printed word from his movable type printing press has the world seen such a rapid change in speed, quantity and quality of human expressions. And I’m sure there was a balding 50 yr old monk complaining to all that would listen that the loss of the hand written word would cheapen the product, and I’m pretty sure his name was Bob.

But since I wasn’t that Bob in 1440 I couldn’t have argued for the preserving of the art of beautiful books, but I can argue for the preserving and continuance of books now.

There is something almost magical, and at minimum artistic, about the process of bringing thoughts through the process that leads to the final published book.  When the thoughts are bound between covers it feels to me like a frame around a beautiful piece of art. Like with paintings there is little that can not be reproduced cheaper and with better image quality on a computer format, but the crudeness of the artist canvas and the printed word of the both have the feeling that its truly man-made, and personal.

It’s that personal touch that has made books some of the best gifts to give and receive. I encourage you to experience the joy of walking through a Boarders( if they continue to exist) and searching for a book that fits the personality, interests and sometimes the needs of the intended receiver. The whole process connects you more deeply with that person. Some of the most remarkable gifts I have seen given my life time were books, including Matthew’s last past Christmas gift to Bobbi of an early edition of the Wizard of Oz. I’m not sure if he was telling her that she was Glenda the Good Witch or Elphaba the Wicked Witch, but either way the gift told her that she was loved. Giving thoughtful books remain an affordable means to connect with others in a real way.

Of course the true purpose of a book is to read it. In interviewing literally thousands of people over the years there has been no better questions that I could ask a potential employee than “what are you reading now”, and “what’s your favorite book”. I have found that more than assessing college transcripts or work experience the way people answer this question tells me a lot about who they are a people. And I know with certainty regardless of the level of higher education obtained, the more they read the more valuable they were to me as an employee.

I have also noticed an interesting part of reading,  it doesn’t really matter what you read as long as you read a lot. I’ve worked with people that spent a year reading nothing but trashy vampire romance novels and other that read nothing but self-help books, and each seem to grow from the experience. It may seem that learning the characteristics of the modern American blood sucker would offer very little to offer a business, except of course if you were a divorce law firm, but I have found people take from books what they need. My advice is to read a variewty of books by a variety of authors. I have found that its sort of like a good diet, if all you eat is chicken nuggets and coke it will eventually catch up with you, variety is the secret to successful reading.

Kids as I said at the on sought of this blog the purpose was to leave you with what ever wisdom, or at least the random thoughts, that I have accumulated in my life. In a sense it was about creating some sort of legacy or tradition. I would be proud if each of you tried, at least some of the time to make book giving  a family tradition.

But of course a new Harley isn’t a bad gift too.

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