David Eide – Opinion Columnist
I have a great love for books as some of my previous articles this year might have indicated. Ever since I realized that reading could speak to the higher truths present in the world, I’ve had a voracious appetite for books. Books have shaped my life in a number of different ways, and I think exploring some of those ways might be a worthwhile way to close out this year where the topic of book banning grew to become a national issue. I hope that as you read this article you may find yourself relating to some of these anecdotes as I would bet than anyone who is passionate about reading and books has experienced at least one of them at some point.
It’s difficult for me to recall the book that really kicked off my love affair with the written word. I know for sure that I haven’t always enjoyed reading, in fact back when I was in elementary school, I used to hate reading assignments and I would always receive bad marks. I think eventually something just clicked in my brain and I quickly took to voracious reading. One series that I can still vividly recall are the Magic Tree House books which detail the adventures of a sibling duo who utilize the titular magic tree house to travel to various historical and fantastical locales.
I loved these books and I think they were a major reason that I developed such a strong attachment to books. Of course, I also experienced the major wave of YA books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson that basically everyone else I know experienced. I think I might have gone a little deeper into this genre than most however, I recall reading a ton of YA dystopia books like the Matched series or the Enclave series that I really don’t see a lot of people talking about these days, probably because most of them weren’t very good.
Another critical institution that played a role in nurturing my love of literature was my local library, Rum River Library. I remember visiting almost every weekend with my parents to return the books I had rented out previously and rent out new books. It’s thanks to the library that I was exposed to such a wide range of content which I think was a key component of my growing love of books. Once I got my driver’s license, I would frequently visit the library just to have a quiet space where I could read my own books to my heart’s content.
Eventually I decided I wanted to give back to the library which had done so much for me, and I began to volunteer there every Wednesday. I would say that my time volunteering at the library was a valuable preparation for actually entering the work world and helped me develop my interpersonal skills in a way that other efforts had not been able to accomplish. Eventually however, as my personal income began to increase, I stopped visiting the library so much and wound up spending more time at bookstores where I could buy books that I would then permanently own which was quite the appealing concept to me at the time. Despite this fact, I still hold a great deal of affection for libraries, and I will gladly do anything to support a library in need.
As I said above, bookstores quickly became my new favorite place to visit for my literature needs. At first, I went to my local branch of Borders, a now defunct bookstore that basically functioned the same ways Barnes and Noble does now, until they sadly closed down and I was forced elsewhere. From there I went to Half-Priced Books where I stayed until I realized that their prices weren’t actually that half-priced and I began to be interested in newer books that Half-Priced Books didn’t often carry. Ultimately, I settled upon Barnes and Noble as it was the only chain of bookstores left on the block, carrying a decent selection of new and older books and having that wonderful bookstore smell that makes every trip worth it. The one downside at Barnes and Noble is that it is much more expensive than Half-Priced Books which has proven to be quite unfortunate for my wallet as I happen to buy a lot of books.
As a matter of fact, I buy so many books that my backlog could probably fill the pages of a small book. When I was a high schooler, I had the naïve idea that I could finish every book I owned at the time before I graduated high school. This did not end up happening and in fact I am still working my way through the initial list that I came up with all those years ago. This wouldn’t be worth commenting upon if I had stopped buying books as I worked my way through my backlog but of course I did not and just in this semester I’ve managed to procure some 30 odd books from stores around St. Peter.
Personally, speaking I don’t really have a problem buying books that I know I won’t be able to read for some time, the mere fact that I own the book is enough to bring me some sense of happiness. This makes a lot of sense; people collect all kinds of different things solely for the sake of collecting them and books just happen to serve that purpose for me. It does mean I need a lot of bookshelves though.
All in all, I just really like every aspect of books. I like new books, I like old books, I like fiction books, I like non-fiction books. There’s just something about the format of a book that speaks to me on an almost spiritual level. While I do enjoy movies or music and other forms of media books will always be my favorite way to experience a story. So if you like books I hope you’ve been able to relate to my experiences and if you don’t I hope I’ve managed to convey just a little bit of why they are so important to me.