January 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Posted in History, Publishing, Reading, Ways of Living, Writing and Life | 13 Comments
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stack of books 03   Most of the time, when I enter somebody’s home, I can immediately tell whether or not there are readers in the house.

There might be a book lying on a table or by a chair. There could be a bookshelf in the living room or a pile of books on the coffee table.

I know that anyone who comes into our home would know that we are dedicated readers, The crammed-full bookshelves around the walls, the books sitting on the coffee tables and the dining table, as well as tucked into nooks and crannies here and there would tell them.

I have never not had books in the house. I grew up with books and they became my delight and my escape. I am pleased to say that all our grown-up children also have books and they are passing that love onto our grandchildren.

One wall in my study

One wall in my study

In our house now, my husband and I have bookcases filled with books – lots of books – in every room but the bathroom. There are also boxes of books in our garage that we don’t have room for in the house. We have more books than we need, but I would never say there are more than we want.

stack of books 02I taught for some years in remote indigenous communities where books were foreign objects. You would never see a book in any of their homes. They had never been a part of the culture, because their culture was an oral one. But that oral culture has been breaking down for years.

stack of books 04One of my greatest delights was teaching the children to read. Another was helping the adults tell their stories and writing them down. We made books in class which the children illustrated. The children could then read them as well as listen to them, and they would not be lost amidst the tantalising enticements of television and movies.

Many years later, those children communicate with me and others through writing and reading. Some of them have travelled overseas to places they would not have known about but for their knowledge of reading.  Indeed, one person just today said how thankful she is to be able to read. I am sure that if I went into her home now, there would be at least a few books and magazines around. I am thankful for that.

Kindle-&books   The tremendous increase in electronic delivery of reading matter over the last couple of years has led, in some sections of the community, to a change in patterns of reading.

Many who once bought printed books now buy electronic books either instead of print or as well as. My husband and I buy both; digital books are very convenient for when we are travelling, though some types of books are still more suitable for print rather than digital format.


I have heard several people say they are getting rid of their print libraries and just having e-books that will no longer take up space, or “clutter” their homes. I can’t imagine not having print books. The feel, smell and delight in them cannot be replaced by a plastic screen as far as I am concerned.

However, it is almost inevitable (unless there is a major breakdown or change in the earth’s electrical environment) that most reading matter will eventually be delivered electronically.

When that happens, how will we be able to tell when we are entering the home of a book-lover?

(c) Linda Visman

Where do you stand on the print-digital spectrum in book formatting and reading? Do you prefer one over the other?


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  1. We will be able to tell we are entering the home of a book-lover by the shine in the eye and interesting conversation of our hosts.

    I really am delighted to rid myself of the hundreds (perhaps thousands, I haven’t counted) of books I have collected over the years. I hardly ever re-read and apart from reference books, I cannot see the point of having a lifetime’s reading on the shelves, providing homes for spiders and dust. I can’t wait to turf out all that garbage.

    I haven’t done it yet, though. Not sure why not.

    • Thanks for dropping in, Mavis. 🙂
      Yes, it is silly to have too many books about the house, taking up room. I know I need to get rid of lots of the books I will probably never read again too. I do try now and then and even got rid of about 40 books last year. But I have to dispose of more than that!

  2. Research has shown that paper in the hand retains in the mind better than touching a glass so until the time when surfaces don’t feel like glass will keep on getting books (will be a bit of money for the person who invents such a device). That having a house full of unread books defeats the purpose.Books were made to be read and when they aren’t they should be passed onto people and places where they will be.

    • That’s right, Paul – others should get the chance to read them. But do you know how hard it is to give them away! You can’t sell them, because used book dealers already have too many. I have asked community groups if they want them but hardly any do. I’ve tried asking for a small donation for each book (even 50cents) that will go to an indigenous education group, but only raised a couple of dollars.
      Oh well, when I get up the energy again, I will try again.

  3. The kind of books in a home, in a study also always gives you a good idea of the kind of person who lives there. Books can say a lot about people. What a gift you have given to those children Linda and what a privilege it must have been for you. Thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    • Thank you for your comment, Don. It is true that the kind of books reflect the person. I always find it interesting to check out others’ bookshelves. 🙂
      I am really glad that I had the chance to give those kids the gift of reading. It has certainly opened up the world to some. It was a special time of my life.

  4. I like a mix of paper and digital. There is something very special about holding a book, smelling its pages, and feeling the texture and quality. The digital is handy for travel but it’s difficult to dip into it and if it’s a reference book you can’t ready picnic on the information. Case for both.

  5. Thanks so much Linda. I can’t imagine ereaders taking over completely! Maybe for some people but not real book lovers. There are and will be a lot of books that just won’t be available electronically! Ever and by these I mean books published over say 50 years ago – the famous ones of course but not most of the rest! And that is as it should be!

    • Debbie, let’s hope that some of the books still there in the future will be those we have written. 😉

      • Ah now! What a wonderful thought!

  6. There’s no substitute for ‘real’ books!

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