A book is a set of pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers, so says my dictionary, which sits on my desk in book form. Before the age of mass digital storage and rapid retrieval at very a low cost, books existed and were highly used. Now books are warehoused in libraries never again to be read. Transformed to digits, books cease to exist in their original form. Some books may remain in homes or offices, where they can be used to fill bookcases as decoration, a symbol of knowledge or to prop doors open. The elderly may still read books, because they don't know any better. Or could it be the feel and pleasure of holding a beloved book in your hands; turning the pages and putting a bookmark in as you fall off to sleep; no need to reboot or recharge. The Bible in book form may remain in churches to be held up before any congregations that remain to follow the Word.
I like books, but that is of no consequence. It does little good to lobby for them. Still I cannot resist a few words of praise.
Dictionaries are quite useful. My dictionary has double-column pages of words that run for 1,630 pages. You can buy larger or smaller versions and, of course, find any of these words defined on the Internet.
About any word can be found in a dictionary. Almost. Innumercy is not there; a word created in 1988. Look it up. Really new words are not there either and some old words are missing that have been defined as archaic or obsolete. Some words are about to be obsolete. The word "Republican" is a possibility.
It is estimated that there are about 171,000 words in use in the English language plus 47,000 or so no longer in use. The average adult is said to know 20,000 to 35,000 words. For me, I get by with a few thousand, again and again.
I read my dictionary in bed sometimes. It's a very good sleeping pill along with a small sniff of Port, the ultimate sleeping pill of the sixteenth century. My dictionary sometimes leads me to words I wasn't even looking for. They jump out and catch my attention. They ask the questions - Why didn't you know me? Would you like to get acquainted?
Some words defined in my dictionary are not defined correctly. "Free Market" is a good example. A completely free market exists only in theory. In the real world all kinds of things encroach on the concept: taxes, regulations, market power, innovation and so forth.
One of my favorite books for relaxation is The Honorable Schoolboy by John le Carre. The detail, the cleverness, the phraseology and the storyline are unmatched, if you like Brit spy tales in the Far East. Similarly, C.J. Box spins mysteries in the wilds of Wyoming - very entertaining on a lower level. Shakespeare has pretty much everything under the sun. In one play, he created over 500 new words. Julia Child can improve your roast chicken very quickly or show you how French cuisine is done, if you have the time. Brad Gilbert tells how to win ugly at tennis. Thomas Sowell explains basic economics and why education has failed America. And, of course, the Bible is our everyday guide in several forms (some Bibles are missing over 300 pages).
Christopher Garbacz lives in Madison County.