A World Without Books

A World Without Books

An Irish novelist Colm Toibin once recounted a story about observing a Cantonese man sitting on Kowloon footpath reading a book. The man’s face was stern with concentration, and his finger tracing the line being read. At times the man’s expression would be disturbed in frustration at his progress. Finally, the reader looked up at the sky, while his face was beaming. It does not matter whether it was because of a sudden joy with the act of reading, or revelation from what was written, or delight at how the story resolved. The point is that he was in possession of something deliciously private – a connection between him and the writer, between the real world and the world, described upon the pages.

There is the frequently asked question; What would the world be like without books? The very question is absurd and depressing. It is always said that the latest technology signals the demise of the book. Decades ago, it was thought that the radio would replace books. This fear has persisted throughout with the inventions of television and the internet. But scenes like that of a Cartoneses man reading the book negate the notion that modern advances pose a threat to reading. Books are themselves a form of technology that is spread over the pages and makes us delve into the complexities of life.

Literature is the story of humans. It is the record of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. Books make us travel at large. During our journey, we are connected with humanity. We identify ourselves with the characters we meet and learn whether we love, loathe, fear, or flatter. They help us comprehend our faults and aspirations. They tell us who we could become if we are not careful. Reading provides the deepest connection to the morals that make us human, and part of a larger society.

Books are a source of comfort for us. They are safe shelters. Throughout human history, man has found peace in the written works. Books are Bridge – through their pages, we make our contact with society. Those who read more are better prepared to face the world than those who do not read.

Through reading a book connects us with humanity, It is also the last truly private act in a world that has become too public. As nourishment for the mind, it is slow food in a world given over to fast food. Blogs, text messages, and e-books, bring relevance and instant gratification, many newspapers and magazines do. But however important such forms are, they endure only as long as the stuff they are printed on. The comforts of books defy time and break borders.

Books offer other types of pleasures as well. The joy of their touch, sound, and fragrance is immeasurable. The pleasure of their understanding is an addition to it. The sharing of a book with friends is still another form of joy. Libraries are evidence of the grandeur of a civilization.

It is important that we work to give every person the opportunity to enjoy the books as shelters, sustenance, and roads forward. To imagine a world without books is to imagine a world without thought, feeling, compression, history, or voice.


It is a well known fact that when there were no televisions or computers, reading was a primary leisure activity. People would spend hours reading books and travel to lands far away in their minds. The reading habit can become a healthy addiction and make us sensitive to global issues. It can also broaden our minds and improve our knowledge.

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