In the company of great minds

I love to sit in my libraries (one at home, and one in my office) during my spare hours, and when not reading or working, I try to visualize the tears, fears, joys and adventures that led to the writing of the tales within the pages of those many books on the shelves. Sometimes, when stuck on a plot point in my own stories, I thumb through these books for a prompt that will get me going again. And I stop to silently thank the writer concerned for the nudge to my stalled creativity.

I glance through the spines of murder mysteries, histories, Canadian literature, American literature, Asian, European and Jewish literature, children’s stories, “how•to” books on writing, and on business consulting, books on wine making, golfing, encyclopaedias that I never refer to now thanks to Wikipedia, dictionaries that I rarely refer to because of, books on nutrition, or on how to make money and retire early (I never read this latter category now because the formulas did not work for me), fantasy novels, magazine and finally even copies of the novels I have written, and the magazines and anthologies my short stories have been published in, and I feel in good company.

I try to visualize the angst these writers suffered to experience, create and bring to fruition their works, works that have outlived the lives of some of their creators and continue to give us pleasure and wisdom today. Many of the dead writers would have passed on with no clue as to the merit their hard work would garner beyond their life spans.

And I feel a sense of loss, because all these books will soon be condensed into a small electronic tablet that I will cart around with me henceforth and read whenever I need an injection of intellectual stimulation in the printed form. I will have to imagine all these great minds and their wisdom squeezed into a mini computer chip. I wonder what I will do when I have to add new books to my present libraries; will there even be tangible books in the future? Or will my present collection remain stagnant, with every addition arriving in electronic form?

I do know that my new e•reader will be many times more efficient, reducing space in my luggage, giving me instant access to books that pique my fancy, letting me sample chapters before I decide to buy, giving me dictionary and encyclopaedia access to words or passages I come across, even read back to me when I am too tired to exert my eyes. But will it give me companionship with the masters, where by sitting quietly in my library and touching those old tomes, I would connect with the spirits of the great writers who contributed so much to the literary canon, and who inspired me to follow my life path? I wonder?

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