Sunday, December 30, 2007


I remember my old languages professor telling us that even when he couldn't afford it he tried to either spend or put aside $10 a week on books (and this was back when a good quality paperback cost one or two dollars, and very few hardcovers cost more than ten dollars.)

I remember watching a black leader on TV telling young black men that he wanted them to buy two books for every CD they bought.

We underestimate the value of a book and the gift of literacy.

I once had the privilege of meeting a retired (25+ years ago) Detroit Tiger who was functionally illiterate when he joined the team. He was in my store just talking to some kids, and each person who asked him a question, before he answered he would ask "Do you know how to read?" and he eventually came to a young man who hesitated before he eventually said "Yeah". The retired Great One pointed to a sign on my office door (EMPLOYEES ONLY - - ALARM WILL SOUND) and said "Read that sign to me." The kid couldn't do it and the former Tiger lit into him, letting him know that "I was ripped off for a lot of money because I did not know how to read! You want to get ripped off? You just stay illiterate and ignorant! It isn't 'Acting White' to know how to read, it's acting smart." Then with his face inches from the stunned @12 yrs old boy, he said "You learn to READ! or you WILL be ripped off and have nothing but troubles." Then he calmed down and told the rest of the kids that he couldn't emphasize it enough, if you learn to do just one thing, make it being able to read. He was impressive as a player and even more impressive as a man.

There are so many good books being published today that it is impossible to keep up with them. Many of our best books were written years ago.

Everyone should have a library no matter if it is written on paper or stored on CDs. With electronic books everyone could have libraries of thousands of works.

I want to recommend a website that most probably know about but if you don't, it is worth the effort and time. You can download over 120,000 books directly or indirectly from this site and most of them, the public domain ones, are free. You won't get a recent book here, but there are literally thousands of classics, of all types, available here.

Gutenberg On-Line Library.

There is a secondary site that is part of Gutenberg, that isn't the primary site but it is easier to work from.

No matter if you buy the books, borrow them from a library, or download them, read and it is better to keep a collection of, not necessarily the best books, but the books and writers that you like the best. And the best books, like movies, are the ones you enjoy or learn from, over and over again.


Blogger Bob said...

You and I are really thinking along the same lines tonight. I just posted on "Bucking the Odds," very similar to what you have written today. I have another one that I am going to post in a few minutes.

10:08 PM  
Blogger jgf said...

I love books. I often forget to do other things because I am so caught up in one.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Donald Douglas said...

Thanks for the great post, Shoprat!

Good storytelling, and an awesome message.

I like old-fashioned books for now, but more and more stuff is available online nowadays! No reason for people not to be reading to their heart's content!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

Great story Shoprat. I love books. The next one I'm going to read is a gift from a friend; The Capitalist Manifesto.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

Happy New Year Shoprat!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Happy New Year, Shop, and may you have plenty of new books too.

12:24 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Thanks and Happy New Year to all.

7:38 PM  
Blogger heidianne jackson said...

books are a passion of mine. my granddad taught us that so long as you have books you can go anywhere. he also taught us to NEVER throw a book away - said it was like giving up on thinking.

i'm not sure i agree with his analogy 100%, but every time we move finds my husband threatening to destroy my library. when the construction firm packed out our house after the fire last february the books took up 68 of the "small" book boxes...

great post shoprat and happy, happy new year!

10:12 AM  
Blogger pete in Midland said...

books have always been a passion of mine, and I can't seem to stop collecting the darned things, even though they get boxed up and moved to the garage whenever I fill a box. I'm hoping to have a basement again when I retire and move ... so that I can have a visible library again. I'm somewhere north of 1800 hardcovers, excluding encyclopedia type sets. And I still can't stop.

In addition to the freebies at Gutenberg, you can also find just about any book to buy at a reasonable price at Abe's Books. They aggregate most of the major book stores in North America (and much of Europe) ... and I use them frequently to find out of print books I need to complete a collection.
Knowledge is power, and reading breeds knowledge. Unless, of course, you read stuff like "It Takes a Village" and "Living History."

3:55 PM  

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