Despite having begun to think about this topic before dinner with friends yesterday, after dinner I came home and dropped into bed. Words. I love them and the passionate and clever and sobering configurations they take on in books.
I don’t care whether books are old or new. Sometimes, as in the Collins guide, they don’t even have to have immediate relevance to my daily life. It’s their existence, the idea that someone thought them up and articulated these ideas, that is so wondrous.
That said, truly old books possess a distinctive charm, open a window into other worlds. Like this set encountered at a conference this fall:
How not to love this little bearded man with the global burden on his back? These scientific books were the focus of the conference, and a marvelous book that I rather impetuously fell for — Osteographia — was responsible for my own role there. Others, however, were there because they make books, beautiful and startling ones (about which, more here):
Though I’ve associated books and words almost as long as I can remember, in recent years I’ve become attuned to the way people who play with words work in other media — like Colbert’s The Word segment and the Vlogbrothers.
It’s a rich world created in screens and videos, artists books and archives, and books and bookstores. They give shape and meaning to my days, creating community on page and screen. They teach and delight, to borrow an old phrase (which you can find here). They inspire and console, inform and provoke. They are what I listen to as I fall asleep and attend to as soon as I’m awake.