My granddad is a retired Independent Baptist preacher. After he retired and he and my grandma were downsizing, he passed along some books from his library that he thought I would like. Although I don’t hold to the strong, dispensational theology that granddad preached, he still had some treasures that I was blessed to receive. Some of which include the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series of Spurgeon sermons, The Ploughman’s Talk and Ploughman’s Pictures, a first edition of John Brown’s biography on John Bunyan, David Brainerd, Beloved Yankee, Baxter’s The Saint’s Everlasting Rest, G. Campbell Morgan’s The Letter’s of Our Lord, the Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, and a couple of Tozer books. These are hardbound books, some looking pretty well-read, and most bearing my granddad’s signature with something like “63” next to it. I’ve also been blessed to find some scribbles and notes in the mix.
Of all the things that I could have inherited from my granddad, I am most blessed to have some of his books. My grandma on the other side of my family was after me at one time to be more of a “collector.” One of her favorite things to collect are dishes. I told my grandma that I guess you could say that I collect books. They are the treasures that I want my children to have one day. Since then, grandma has passed down some goodies my way as well.
When they’re sitting on the shelf the way they do, or stacked in piles with some of their friends, the presence of these books reminds me of my family. They are my precious heirlooms, even more valuable to me than they were to my grandparents. This makes me wonder about the role of digital books. While I think that there is a role for eBooks, I want to invest in actual paper when it comes to the books that I would like to pass along. Maybe if eReaders were around it would have been a lot more cost-effective for my granddad to just download the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series. It surely wouldn’t have taken as much space; and it would save me the trouble on the occasional vacuuming I have to do to the tops of my books (does anyone else out there use this dust-removal technique?). But then I never would have discovered the treasure. And I certainly wouldn’t have the pleasure of noticing the faded colors on the hardback slips, the bent corners on the “better loved” volumes, or the thrill of finding his handwriting in them.
The digital version renders a book more forgettable. It has no presence, no individuality, and certainly no signs of love. As a shopper, it makes me consider which books are going to be my friends before I push that “download” button.
Here’s two related links–the first on heirlooms, the second on eReaders: