Saturday, May 23, 2009

No confidence

We're going through bookcases and boxes of books now, rearranging things and deciding what we can donate to the church garage/rummage/tag sale.

When we moved I had a goal of reducing our numbers of books. We have a lot, which means a lot of boxes to store and move. We don't have space to have all our books out of boxes in this house. Maybe we'll never have a house big enough. So I try to cull.

But as I look at my kids' books, I find I can't part with them. Not because they have such sentimental value, though we did enjoy them; there's not a loser in the bunch. And they are mostly all available at the local library, now. But I no longer have confidence that my as-yet-hypothetical grandchildren will be able to find books like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, or The Railway Children, or Half Magic or - God forbid - Swallows and Amazons. Because they're old, and well-written... and old, well-written books aren't very popular anymore.

It's not just kids' books. Every now and then I go through the boxes of Sophocles, Homer, Aeschylus, all that old Western Civ stuff, and I think, my kids won't need these! There will be new editions by the time they are ready to read this. Why keep these old books? But now, as Western Civ declines - is scorned - who knows how much these books will be valued in the future?

I just don't have confidence that public libraries as we understand them now will exist in 20 years. Or if they do, if such books will have been determined to be archaic, dispensable, and... not available. And I don't mean not available in old-fashioned paper book form. I mean, gone. I don't have confidence in our government not to decide that certain books that espouse certain old-fashioned values might be better off... disappearing. I don't have confidence in a culture that despises hard work and study and idolizes mindless leisure and entertainment. The people that don't read good books today will be running the libraries and the government and amazon.com soon.

So I'm not getting rid of any of our good books. Actually, I'll probably be buying more.

Do you think I'm wrong?

6 comments:

Sandy said...

There are lots of books on my shelves that are there because I want my grandchildren to read them and I have no reason to think that they will still be in print when the time comes. Many of the history titles published by Beautiful Feet (bfbooks.com) fall into that category. I do try to update editions when I can, better quality paper, larger print, great illustrations. But, I am interested in preserving history, much of it already missing from modern textbooks.

SmallWorld at Home said...

Nope!

DADvocate said...

You make an excellent point. The classics are classic for a reason and lots of those reasons go against today's values.

I prefer books to online reading, movies, etc. I continue to use an old fashion dictionary. There are advantages to this that I won't get into now.

Jeanette said...

No way!

My favorite event comes once a year in the Old Book Sale held by our county library system...fabulous old books for a quarter or dollar a piece. Books that are out of print, or origional in some way but not "suitable" for the library anymore.

It is a serious addiction, those old books.

Alexandra said...

I am with you all the way! Hold on to those books. Even if they don't end up being monetarily valuable later on, they will hold sentimental value and reading them to your grandchildren will be a valuable experience for you and for them intellectually and bonding-wise.

G said...

I keep all books too. My dh thinks I'm just a pack-rat, but honestly, what if they do go out of print? I have boxes of books waiting...