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A Short Essay on Books

An Essay on Books
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Fall 1999 and Revised 1 Jul 2004

The other day I started thinking about books. I was wondering whether $25.00, or $50.00 or $75.00 is too much for a book.

What is a book, anyway?

An unimaginative answer says it's as a number of pages containing writing or printing and fastened together along one edge and usually between protective covers. Although a book can contain business records, we usually think of it as telling a story, real or imagined. It can be directed to children, or adults or both; adult books are usually thicker than children's books.

For me, books are more than a bound collection of pages. A book is an adventure of the mind which transcends time and space. My local library has tens of thousands of adventures, all at my fingertips. But it doesn't stock my favorite adventure; the one describing my forbearers' journey through history. I learn of their struggles for food, shelter and religious freedom; and of their dreams, ambition and hopes for a better future for their children and grandchildren.

I don't have to keep a diary describing my adventure; the book is my diary. Some of my adventures have been so enjoyable I've taken them many times, each time finding something I missed before.

Some adventures are free. Other adventures cost a bit. But almost everything in life costs me. Setting aside the big-ticket items like house payments, car payments and taxes, it's all relative:

  • My phone bill averages $32.00 a month.
  • A family dinner out is $30.00 to $50.00.
  • My mechanic charges $75.00 an hour.
  • My dentist gets $100 for cleaning my teeth.
  • Each of my ski trips costs cost more than $100.00.
  • Have you had your TV repaired? Wow!
  • My trash collector bills me $180.00 a year.
  • My family's grocery bill last month was over $300.00.

That brings me back to where I started. How much is too much to to spend to learn about those who preceded me? To share in their journeys, adventures, aspirations, dreams and sorrows? I'll just skip one ski trip, spend that time with a book, and have money left over

If you agree, or disagree, we would like to hear from you. You may contact us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

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