This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.













Thursday, May 1, 2008

Trees or books? What's a lover of words and paper to do?

My former English professor called it one of life's great pleasures: reading outdoors.

How ironic then that that master work of nature, the tree, so loved by so many as cool company on a hot summer day of reading in the park, is threatened by the same people's love of books. You go out, maybe it's spring, everything is blooming and blossoming, maybe it's rained and the darkened barks and newborn leaves are smelling fruity in the breeze. You sit on a bench and pull out a dog-eared copy of your favorite annual re-read and breathe a sigh of regret that what you hold in your hands was once a fruit-smelling, life-giving tower of nature just like the ones around you. But worse is when you buy a new glossy copy of some recent release or old classic and know that you just contributed to the demise of a tree.

Sounds like dog-eared copies may be the way to go, as this article in the The Guardian seems to point out, at least if you want to read with the clear conscience that seems requisite for outdoor reading enjoyment.

Looks like book-swapping is big nowadays and may be a good way to help the cause of tree survival, but check out the reaction of the author mentioned in this piece. It's a legitimate issue - authors should get paid. But I balk at the comparison to the file-sharing woes of the music industry. One might want to ask her, ever heard of libraries, sister? They circulate books. And what about friends who share books? Should they be stopped? The book swap sites talked about in this article are like the "take a book, leave a book" program also mentioned, just on a large scale. Does their size render them somehow wrong?

I love a new book as much as anyone, but there's merit in this book swapping idea. Were I only so loyal to nature that I did more of it, but occasional used book-buying of hard to find titles is about as close to it as I get. Kudos to those who book swap. Love those books, love those trees!

7 comments:

Shimona said...

How about audio-books? That way you can enjoy the book, and keep it to enjoy again and again without suffering guilt pangs about murdering a tree :-)

Shimona

Jemima said...

That's right! Completely forgot audio-books. They're a great thing, though the experience isn't quite the same as reading...
Thanks for reading, Shimona!

Jemima

Shimona said...

That's true, listening isn't quite the same as reading and nothing can quite beat the actual possession of books, of having them on your bookshelves whispering "come read me". If you've read Cornelia Funke's wonderful "Inkheart", you'll know what I mean...

Jemima said...

Yeah, Inkheart... When I read the beginning of that book I thought, "Now here's a lover of books." And I think the author draws her own illustrations. That's quite impressive, really.

Dornroeschen said...

Honestly I never though my love for books is killing trees, but I've been indignant at glossy magazines that use so much good quality paper just to fill it with silly gossip! I think second-hand bookshops might be an option here. At least with classics. Older editions of "old" novels seem even more appealing than the new volumes sometimes!

Dornroeschen said...

Inkheart - or rather Tintenherz - is on my reading list! And I think Cornelia Funke really does her own illustrations! I read somewhere that her first story appeared from a drawing or something like that. I listened to two short audiobooks by Cornelia Funke - Das Piratenschwein (about a pig who could find treasures) and Zottelkralle (a monster making friends with a boy), they were charming and fun, especially the latter. I'd like to translate Zottelkralle into Russian :-) It sounds exactly like a story I could write myself!

Jemima said...

Dornroeschen,

Old novels can be so much fun to find, too. I found one at a book sale, Gone With the Wind, a 1937 edition (but, unfortunately, not a first edition) and it was only one dollar! And, I saved a tree!

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