Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Written Art

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a book is “a set of printed sheets of paper that are held together inside a cover.” It’s a simple definition for such an extraordinary object. Some people will see a book and cringe, unable to see more than just a stack of papers bound together. What is the point of a book? Why, as a Writing major, am I planning on dedicating my life to books, especially since they are “going out of style” and won’t be as important as technology advances? Those are questions I am asked almost weekly. Generally they are accompanied by a look of incredulity or a roll of the eyes. A book is so much more than papers tied together. A book is an eye-opening adventure; a book is source of inspiration; a book is a type of legacy; a book is a work of art.

Some books are obviously adventures, others not so much. For my internship at TCU Press, I am reading the architect Frank D. Welch’s memoir, a book I was hesitant about. I read fiction. I live for fiction. What was I going to do with an entire book about architecture? But did I read the memoir, and I was amazed by how intriguing it was. It took me on an adventure and opened my eyes to the thoughts of an architect. I learned new things (like, for instance, what a gabled roof is) and now find myself looking at buildings and wondering about the life of the person who created them. I was bemused about my reaction to the memoir and found myself wishing that it was longer so that I could learn more. It was an adventure because this was something completely new to me, and I was able to learn something from it, and that’s what adventures are about: learning things.

Books are unique concepts. They are the tiny thoughts of someone put together to create larger thoughts, to tell a story and to teach. They have a strange ability to inspire people to do things.

Because of the impact books have made on my life, when someone tells me that books aren’t going to be around much longer, I generally stifle a laugh. I understand that there are now eBooks and that sort of thing, but honestly they don’t hold a candle to the actual, physical copy of a book. Although some books do get lost from the hands of time, many do not. We still have writings like The Odyssey and The Iliad. Decades, if not centuries, from now, people will still know the names Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins.

Each book is a piece of art. It might not be one in the same fashion as a painting or a sculpture or even a symphony, but it is art and it is, in its own sense, everlasting and inspiring. Each book, each sheet of paper, is important in ways beyond just being held together. Books, no matter their genre, are the masterpieces of the Written Art.

by Shelby Hild, intern

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