There was a note of concern in her voice.  “Do you think,” my wife Robin began, “that our rafters will hold the weight of your second floor office?”  The look on her face registered serious concern.  “If you keep buying books,” Robin continued, “I have my doubts.”  I admit, with 4000 volumes in the collection, my library may literally weigh a ton.

In our more mobile society people are interested in something they can carry which weighs ounces, not pounds.  So it is no surprise National Public Radio reported that digital book sales are up.[1] Customers are buying more digital books than books in any other format.  NPR’s “Morning Edition” commentator Nancy Pearl stated that the sales report spoke more about convenience than price.  But Nancy Pearl, an author and librarian, is not happy about the rise in use of digital reading practices.  Ms. Pearl said, [Quote] “Most of the things that we’ve done to make life more convenient for people has come at a price, whether its having face-to-face interactions with your bookseller or your librarian, or wandering into the store to browse.” [End-Quote]

Face-to-face connection to a book does matter.  Researchers at the University of Tennessee gave disadvantaged students 12 books of their own choosing to take home at the end of the school year. The research continued for three successive years. The study found that the students who brought the books home had significantly higher reading scores than other students.  The study illustrates the tremendous power of books.  Research from 27 countries says the same thing: kids who grow up in a home with 500 books are better students.

Yes, the physical presence of books is important.  But there’s more.  It seems that the building of a physical library impacts the view children have of themselves.  Children who have books in their possession now see themselves as readers, as members of a different group.  Engaged in reading, young people see the world in a different way.  Students who read know they have something to learn outside their own experience.  Reading explains that the person who wrote a book has some type of authority over the information they write.  So, respect for an author’s wisdom is shown by learners reading classic works of literature.  It is true that my office bears a great weight of books; but those books bear the great weight of learning.  For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.

Friends hope Mark never moves again–those book boxes are heavy.  Mark’s two libraries can be found in Indianapolis where he teaches at Crossroads Bible College.  To air on Moody Radio, summer, 2011.

[1] 28 January 11, National Public Radio, Renee Montagne and Wendy Kaufman reporting.

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  1. Books are very important! They helped shape my childhood and awakened my imagination. The sad part is that technology is ripping that away.

  2. Mark,

    Great post! You know how much I love books also – but keep mine in the lower level!

    It is painful for me to part with a book – I wonder how I will deal with books that I now have on my Kindle.

    Re: tech taking over – I don’t think it will completely – we seem to be in more of a “both and” rather than an “either or” situation with this. I happy to enjoy books both ways – both have their advantages. I know that with travel it is much easier for me to carry my Kindle than wear out my shoulder lugging a bag of books! On the other hand I have not figured out a way to “dog-ear” books on my Kindle yet!

  3. My small room already contains two bookshelves crammed with books and my desk will soon be overflowing as well. I had to make a conscious choice to stop going to Half Price Books and! There is nothing like a real book to look at, flip through, underline, write notes in, and meditate on.

  4. Thanks for the great post, Dr. Eckel.

    I was intrigued and intimidated by books as a child. To pick up a book as a young lad was always a mysterious adventure waiting to reveal itself to me. It was also a daunting task to read as I had problems with concentration. As a grown man in my forties, books have taken on a new purpose for me as something held, felt, (and yes, even smelled) and most importantly, experienced. My concentration issues seem to be much better now.

    I look at my library where there was none and I see a wealth of information waiting for me to discover and apply to life. I have rediscovered books and appreciate them now more than ever. There they sit on their shelves, waiting to be loved as only a reader can truly understand. I realize that the days of life are numbered and I am grateful to be awakened once again to the type of joy that only learning from reading a book can bring.

    In the age of digital everything, I will never accept an electronic device as a substitute for the experience of reading a book.

  5. Dan, as always, I’m grateful for your good words. We share the same belief: the book will never die. For the record, I’m going to begin transferring books out of the second floor office! 🙂

    Lachelle, I hope you add more and more books (and shelves!) to your collection. I cannot think about how one would properly interact with others’ writing without a pencil in hand.

    And Nelson, I hope the smell of books continues to waft through your home! Continue to stand against the electronic juggernaut. As with all advances, digital has its place. But it’s hard for me to conceive not holding a binding in my hand!

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