Books Are the Secret Places of Our Lives

By Soman, Shirley Camper | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), November 24, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Books Are the Secret Places of Our Lives

Soman, Shirley Camper, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

There's something about a book. Few are more devoted than this writer to the electronic universe. The wonders of a spell check and thesaurus on any word processing program, the incredible joys of WordPerfect Rhymer for versifiers, the instant copying and duplicating features on even the oldest pc's - these bring sudden laughter and a delicious sense of total control to every aficionado.

And when you are in one of the data banks - Compuserve, Lexis, Nexis, the Internet - the world of information or new friendships is on your fingertips. Aaaah.

So why talk about books anymore? Especially since publishers have now begun to put books on disk? And both computer and environmental devotees are claiming that we will no longer need to take up vast shelf space at home and library, that we will no longer need to strip our forests to make such reams of paper.

Still, there's something about a book. Perhaps it's an old-fashioned hangup. Or perhaps a book is another kind of durable magic that affects all ages and stages of life.

Consider "Pat The Bunny" - a book that has enchanted toddlers for more than 50 years. No computer will allow those small fingers to "feel" the bunny "fur," to hold this small package with ease. There are many, many new and old books for small children that give them - without the "fur," that feeling of delight and control. The tactile ability to handle pages may have something to do with this.

Classic books, "The Secret Garden" for example, will soon be seen on computer - and hooray for that. But not to be able to turn the pages, to decide on a secret place of one's own to read the book, is to be bereft of one of the essential joys and values of books.

Sitting on a grassy hilltop across the street from a hospital in Brookline, Mass., reading that book, gave an 11-year-old a private place while waiting to see her dying mother - and a sense of life's continuity, of the world beyond one's own personal tragedy.

Move on to those periods of pre-teens and early teens when serials absorb most children - "The Hardy Boys" and "Nancy Drew" for older generations; "Choose Your Own Adventure" and the "Baby-Sitters Club" books for today's children. (There is a very seriously negative trend in the serials, the badly written horror books, such as the dreadful "Fear Street" series and the extremely popular "`Goosebumps" for 8- to 10-year-olds. The publishers should be ashamed.)

Of course, these serials are pictorialized and will be computerized. But again, the feel of a volume, the suspense of page-turning even without horror, brings an experience not-to-be-duplicated on a computer or in video of any kind.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Books Are the Secret Places of Our Lives


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?