We live in an amazing time. On my desk are my phone, my iPad, two portable batteries that combined will turbo charge four devises, two external hard drives for backup, my laptop, a printer that talks to my phone, iPad and MacBook Pro without having to be physically connected to them, and a 3x5x0.5 inch black box which contains every single issue of National Geographic published between 1888 and 2008.
Give or take, 1400 issues crammed into a 1/2 inch tall index card sized box. Those few diagrams of the Great Storm were the only illustrations in the first issue. The issue from the year and month of my Dad’s birth was filled with illustrations. The issue from 60 years ago had more photographs than I can count. And check out what was being advertised in the issue from the year and month of Daughter C’s birth:
In my book collecting travels, I’ve come across dozens of these
crappy old books and nearly all are as they were when they arrived in the mail– no marginalia, no page corners turned, no random scraps of paper serving as bookmarks.
There are three services which books may render in the home: they may be ornaments, tools, or friends.Lyman Abbott, “Books for Study and Reading,” in The Guide to Reading, Lyman Abbott and Asa Don Dickinson, eds., Nelson Doubleday, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1925
Also on my desk is a dear old friend, Volume Eight: Story and History of Our Wonder World: A Library of Knowledge in Ten Volumes– a 400+ page, 104 year old book with leather covers and gilded pages. If I click on the Adobe symbol in the dock, the very page I have open in the book will appear on my screen, thanks to Archive.org.
It’s amazing. Truly. Three hundred pages of “The Best of Good Reading.” It’s like a Who’s Who of Western Culture. For children!
“Hawthorne, as most boys and girls know… .” Would that was true today.
As someone once said, “What the hell happened to us?”