A World Without … Books?

Sometimes I think about how awful it would be to live in a world without books. Usually it’s a result of watching TV and seeing old footage of people burning books.

But then I reach for my Kindle, admire the towering digital-to-be-read pile that awaits me there, and forget about my concerns. After all, even if every print book on the planet disappeared, we’d still have our digital copies to read and pass on to future generations. Right?

Thankfully, Jan O’Hara’s recent Tartitude blog awakened me to the truth and the worst possible scenario. No power = no ereader.

A world without books of any kind?

This realization comes while I’m in the middle of decluttering my house, so that in 30, 40, or 50 years, my boys won’t have to dispose of our treasures (or what they like to call our junk). I’ve been parting ways with my beloved books, something I haven’t done since we packed to move to this house 19 years ago. At that time, every book I set into the box to give away broke my heart.

This time, though, I’m a little older and a little tougher. With every box I cart out of the house, I tell myself that eventually all books will be in digital form and I’ll be able to buy them for my ereader.

But now my overactive imagination has taken over and I’ve decided it’s less likely I’ll have to fight zombies in the future than do without books.

So what would I do if I got rid of all the print books in my house and the power went out … permanently?

My first thought is that I’d find pen and paper and write stories to entertain myself. My next thought is … what if there is no pen and paper either?

Ack! I’m a lousy verbal storyteller, unlike both my boys who can tell tales off the cuff. I’d start and stop and think, then want to edit every word uttered. Best to leave the verbal storytelling to those who are good at it.

And so, to alleviate my bookless fears, my decluttering has come to an end. The shelves of books and stacks of magazines will have to remain where they are until my boys are moving their dad and me into a much – much, Much, MUCH – smaller living space.

Till then, I’ll hold my long time friends near and dear to my heart because let’s face it, even a three day power outage could cause a diehard reader without a book to go into withdrawal and shock.

So while you all prepare for the upcoming Easter holiday, I want you to take a break and answer these questions. Have you ever thought about giving up your stack(s) of print books? Or do you think zombies will attack you before you ever have to live in a world without books?

Happy Easter everyone!


About Sheila Seabrook

Author of contemporary romance and women's fiction.

Posted on April 4, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Christy Hayes

    I keep my favorite books in print and the rest I read as eBooks. If I read a really good eBook, I’ll go back and get a print copy. This has really helped me declutter my house and my family is very appreciative. Life without power? Yikes!

  2. Oh wow, great question. I’m kind of in transition mode when it comes to print and my Kindle, so I’m not sure. I imagine we’d have to go back to storytelling by the fire if there was nothing left to read!

  3. Hey, thanks for the shout-out, Sheila!

    My current model is akin to Christy’s. I’m giving away books I don’t imagine ever wanting to read again, or books that have microscopic print which strains my eyes.

    If they are definite keepers, especially non-fiction books which I know I’ll reference often, I’m increasingly drawn to paper ande-book. It’s not just the possibility of electrical failures, hackers, etc., that concern me and have me holding on to my paper friends; the nature of digital media and industry flux means I can’t count on always being able to read an ebook bought today in tomorrow’s devices. That would rankle, especially when some of those ebooks are more expensive than paper.

    • I’ve thought about the changes in media, too, Jan. I know that every time I’ve updated wordprocessing programs, I don’t always go back and upgrade all of my documents. Over the years, I’ve lost documents because of this and so I can’t help but wonder what’s in store for us in the next 10 or 20 years. Will the digital devices automatically update our reading material or will it be gone unless we buy a new copy?

      BTW, thanks for making me think! 🙂

  4. I have to agree with Jan here. I give away my books that I know I’ll never be interested in reading again and also those with the tiny print that I can’t stand. I love to read at night, almost in the dark, and am addicted to large print because of that. And although I enjoy my Nook and haven’t read a print book in about two months, I’m about to start on the next Jodi Picoult book I ordered. I won’t ever throw all of my print books out, no matter what.

    • I’ve been reading primarily digital, Patti, but every once in a while, I miss holding a book in my hands. I actually have one of Josilyn Jackson’s books that I’m about to dive in to. 🙂

  5. Hi, Sheila! I have five bookcases in my office–one is TBR (yeah, that big!) and the others are ones I love. Occasionally, I visit and go will I ever really reread that? Usually, the answer is no and I send on to a pile for Mom and friends.

    I just spoke at a senior living center and they crave books. Maybe????

    BTW, love my Kindle too, esp for travelling. ox

    • I’ve usually just hang on to the books I really, really love, Vicki, and through the years have given away all of the others to the library or hospitals. Never thought of the senior’s facility, but what a great idea! 🙂

  6. This is a timely post! i am forcing myself to go through my keeper shelves in my office to un-clutter my space. Sadly, only five books have made it into the box, so far. And, when I took them to the used book store, I picked up three paper copies of books I read on Kindle recently! I was feeling guilty about that, but your post has me praising myself for my forethought. 🙂 Bring on the zombies!

    • I feel your pain, Tracy. I’ve only kept the books I truly loved and yet, there’s so many of those and I’m running out of space. It’s hard to part with any of them, even though I haven’t touched them for so many years. So yes, let’s keep those favorites in print form so two hundred years from now, someone can discover them and enjoy them, too. 🙂

  7. Hi, Sheila,
    My tendency to put off regular housework, never mind decluttering, will serve me well if the power goes out because I’ll have plenty of reading material. If zombies arrive, I’ll put them to work moping and vacuuming. Win-win.

  8. Great idea, Pat. I’ve always wanted a housekeeper and the least the zombies can do is work for their food. 🙂

  9. Sheila, I gift to friends of the library or to the Goodwill more now than I did before.

    There is something viseral about holding them and being able to give the gift of reading to others.

    I refuse to think of a world without books );

  10. I should take a page from your book, Florence … pun intended. LOL!

  11. lynnkelleyauthor

    I love my Kindle, but during our recent move when we were forced to downsize, I couldn’t part with most of my books, for the very reason you mention. If we’re without power, then we can’t read those books on our eReaders. An electromagnetic pulse can take out power for an indefinite period of time. It’s kind of scary, and I only know a little about this, but here’s one site that offers info about the different types and the myths, http://www.futurescience.com/emp.html. So I’ve kept most of my books because I want to have them handy if we ever have a major earthquake here in SoCal and are without power for weeks or whatever. We’ll definitely need real books during times like that. I think reading aloud to children or even adults in an emergency shelter would help people cope a little better (as long as it’s not a horror story or one that would cause more anxiety). As much as I love my Kindle, I can’t say goodbye to printed books! Nope, no way!

  12. I’ll never give up my books! Doesn’t matter if I won’t read a particular one again–I love just looking at them on the bookshelf! Besides, I’m sure my kids (at least my daughter) will want to read them.

    I’m saving the future…one book/mind at a time.

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