Books are not sacred objects

I am a book person. For a long time, I believed that meant I was ordaned by Powers Greater Than Me to save books. I rescued books from free bins. I bought them at yard sales and flea markets. I stole them from basements. Wherever books were being mistreated and neglected, I was there to play rescue. I took these sad, saved creatures home, placed them on my shelf and never read them.

These were anxiety-ridden years. I was wracked with guilt at the numbers of grubby-spined tomes on my shelves that would never be read but yet could not be removed. I had to keep these these shabby miscreants because I “might” someday read them. I now understand that this condition is called hoarding. It is a psychological disorder that is treated by a regimen of meds, therapy and appearance on a cable TV reality show.

Now I am recovered. I have found balance, and I can once again enjoy books. I read eBooks. I can stop reading books that I am not enjoying and, sometimes, recycle the paperbacks. I give books away. I sell them. Sometimes, yes, they go into the trashcan.

I love books because of what’s inside. I cherish ideas. I adore controversial opinions well-stated. I like to wear other people’s lives and walk around in their borrowed skins for a few hundred pages.

Books are made to be used. Reading books makes my life larger, better.

But simply having books for the sake of having them is a bit of a burden. Much better that books be put to a good use. And so I find myself defending the idea that books, once no longer read, are great fodder for doing crafts. I’m not crafty but I appreciate the clever soul who can fashion a Kleenex holder, lamp or work desk out of old, unused books. Books worth reading should be read because reading is a sacred thing. Books that are no longer worth reading should be used some other way.

Rebecca Joines Schinsky says all of this much more eloquently that I am able. Read her blog post “Books Are Not Sacred Objects“. Spread the word. If we can get past the idea that all books are sacred objects, we might be able to convince non-book people that reading is a pretty great thing.

2 thoughts on “Books are not sacred objects

  1. Hmmm. Wonder if that’s why non-book people tend to see reading as strange or disturbing, even going so far as displaying pride that they don’t read books. After all, religious fanatics are scary to people who don’t share the faith.

    The statistics suggest that reading is increasing with the advent of ebooks, so maybe this book agnosticism will be a boon for actual reading.


  2. I disagree. Books are sacred objects. There’s something more than content about them: their physical form, their smell, the pages you can leaf through.
    Once a book has been read, and you probably won’t reread it, you won’t experience the other aspects, so take them to a charity shop, so someone else can. Then they can stay sacred.


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