Books are everywhere. Western society is founded on a book — one so foundational and pivotal that its name is the most basic Latin word for book: the Bible (Biblia). Western culture has embraced books in its every aspect, a tradition that continues to this day
We enjoy books about action and adventure, how to build bridges, define key business practices, have sex, find and worship the gods of our choosing and even make jokes. Books define us, because in Western thought, information is more important than the person producing it. Further, books imply that anyone who picks up such a book and reads it could absorb and make use of that idea.
To promote books is to advance the value of individual people and their infinite capability to rise above their yesterday into a better tomorrow.
A small history
If we think of a book as the first complete encapsulated messages meant to be passed generationally without the need for oral tradition, the history of books goes back to the first chiseled stone walls we still find in places like Gobekli Tepe in Turkey. While hardly the first, Egyptian hieroglyphics are easily recognized pictographs depicting key past events — both real and supposed. We have used various forms of paper, such as vellum made from animal skins or papyrus from Nile water reeds for thousands of years.
Between the invention of paper and the press, book-making in all its proto forms was a highly involved, time-consuming and expensive process by which only specialized artists — often under the pay of patrons or patron organizations — could produce. This kept vast amounts of information from the hands of everyday people due to cost-prohibitive distribution.
The first print-produced book first appeared in China in 868, preceding Johannes Gutenberg by centuries, but Gutenberg’s timeliness started an explosion at the onset of the Renaissance that both permanized the concept of books in Western society and made the distribution of their ideas widespread.
Fast forward to today and books are absolutely everywhere, available for incredibly low cost or even free, and host an uncountable number of topics.
Ever heard a personal quote or idea out of context? Ever thin-sliced an idea? Ever heard someone making excuses for their behavior by using only one side of an argument? It’s easy to pass simple ideas that could easily be misunderstood without context.
Books offer writers an opportunity to encapsulate entire ideas with well-rounded arguments to support them. Whether a story, a political or religious philosophy or a how-to book on Jeep repair, books are more than just a list of to-dos or ideas, they provide complete, balanced suppositions.
For example, if we use Western society’s most important and impactful book — the Bible — its power doesn’t stem from having a list of Ten Commandments but the dozens of internal books that nuance the core faith. The same continues in Islam and Buddhist traditions — full books that encapsulate life-changing ideas to round off full conviction.
While not all books successfully achieve a complete encapsulation, the majority do, even if only in their niche focus.
Why books are beautiful
Since the dawn of sentience, mankind has attempted to pass important information down to each successive generation so they might do better than those who came before them. Passing key ideas helps new generations build better homes, secure better food, raise better children, wage better war and otherwise live better lives. When man discovered a way to pass information without having to remember it, it marked a key moment in human development — the shaping of our environment to perpetuate our own prosperity.
Language and reading are keys to a proverbial kingdom of knowledge as each generation adds to this storehouse of wealth. Instead of teaching ALL a man might know or be able to know, teaching a child how to read allows him or her to then take from accumulated knowledge what they need as they engage with the world.
Once language and reading are achieved, there is no limit to how much a person can learn other than their own personal limitations in absorbing it. Ensuring everyone has access to books and knowledge promotes the idea that all humans are capable of improving themselves through knowledge. It is not the background, the gender, the color, the orientation, the nationality or even predisposition of a human that limits them, but only the belief that they can and will take knowledge and apply it in their lives.
All people are capable of more, if only they’re willing to learn.
Reading or writing, Books are life
Books contain life. The information within them is available to us all, and absorbing new ideas can lead to life-changing actions and habits that improve across the spectrum of our lives, our wealth, relationships and health.
If you haven’t lately, pick up a book. Movies are great and Netflix binging can be a lot of fun, but don’t forgo the depth of reading and its impact on expanding your mind and the possibilities of your life!