As I logged onto Yahoo, an article caught my eye: an article on burning books. How many kids haven’t wished at some point to burn a text book at the end of a school year? There have been some that I have though about setting ablaze, but a certain respect for the written word has prevented me–even from burning those that perhaps ought to have been burned for content’s sake.

I can understand the point that this man is making–fewer people are reading books. There is something to be said for the act of picking up a book and getting caught up in it. There is something to be said for the portability of the printed page and skills acquired in reading those printed pages that are not picked up by scanning a screen. His point–that not reading books is akin to setting them ablaze–is valid. Ray Bradbury, in his book Fahrenheit 451, made a similar statement, going further to say that reading the printed page fosters a freedom of thought that nothing else does. In today’s day of computers and the transient nature of the information they link us to, how are we to know if we have the thoughts as the authors originally thought them? The printed page provides an objectivity to knowledge that our world is quickly forgetting. I can’t say that I disagree with his message.

I also appreciate his method of protest. He is damaging no one’s property but his own, and he is planning on going about his protest with full attention to the law and to the safety of those around him. Moreover, while burning books may seem to be excessive, it is in no way a slam on our country (as flag-burning is) nor a vicious personal attack. It effectively draws attention to his message. . . . and his business. He made some sales, didn’t he?

I have to admit that the thoughts of his burning books that are antiques and that are old classics, especially hard to find ones, brings a little knot to my throat. And if I were there, I’d probably succumb to the impulse to rescue a book from the pyre, even if it means that book will be relegated to my own dusty shelves.

I hope he chooses the common trash to burn first as he continues his protest. Maybe the good stuff might have a better chance of survival.

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