“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Joseph Brodsky
Censorship seeks to maintain social control by depriving people of information that challenges the status quo. Brodsky would know, having first been committed to a mental hospital then sent to a work camp before the Soviet Union expelled him in 1972 calling his poetry, “gibberish.”
Poets and writers have likened books to many things, beacons of light, navigational tools, gardens, and magic tickets. All of these represent possibility. Books can transport you to another time and place, or they can change your worldview. However, an unopened book is a dead object. Unlike censorship which can still allow ideas to flourish through unofficial channels, choosing not to read something is a form of self-censorship. It is perhaps an even more insidious one since apathy and inertia squash the need for state control over what we read.
National Library Week is a good time to celebrate our freedom to read whatever we wish, and to reflect on the possibilities and advantages of our intellectual liberty.
Because we have the ability to navigate paper resources wordlessly. We engage with them sensorily, using touch and even smell to sort and track them. By connecting with books in this way, we can rapidly reference multiple works. The brain makes geospatial connections with the printed volume regarding progress and the location of memorable passages based on the feel of the book in the hand. We remember where something was in the book. Using this tactile information we can swiftly and deftly gain understanding of the architecture of any printed resource.
Having both print and digital at one’s disposal is a luxury that should be enjoyed as often as possible. While the mind is excellent at encoding sensory cues into our understanding of a printed book, the portability and searchable text of an electronic resource adds substantially to its overall usefulness. Not only can specific passages be found painlessly, but a meta analysis of key terms can lead to a better understanding of the scope of the work.
Interesting article on print vs. paper: