In the age of eReaders, tablets, smart phones and quicker Internet access, people across the globe have started discussions about the impending death of the book. We've already seen the decline for print editions of certain newspapers and magazines. Newsweek just made the switch to digital only, and some new books are being published solely in eBook format.
In light of our everlasting romance with digital technology, will print books stay relevant?
My affair with print books began as a little girl, and it only grew stronger as I pursued library science.
Growing up, I rhymed with my dad's childhood copies of Dr. Seuss; I solved many mysteries with the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew; and I was introduced to my favorite author, the legendary Agatha Christie.
My memories of past birthdays and Christmases all involve receiving new books to enjoy, so many that it's hard to recall a birthday without at least one gifted book.
I valued each and every one of those books,because they introduced me to new worlds, faraway places and fascinating characters. So now that I'm a librarian, I think it's only natural that I fully return the favor. My family can attest to my book-giving habits, teasing that they never have to guess what gift I've given, because it will always be a book.
As much as I enjoy the convenience of eBooks and eReaders, there's something to be said for a book in its physical form. Being able to feel its weight and worn edges; leafing through its pages until a particularly moving passage catches your eye; underlining and marking your favorite passages, later sharing them with a friend — these are unique to books alone.
The gift of a book carries great significance as well, serving as the basis of Jen Adams' book, "The Books They Gave Me: True Stories of Life, Love, and Lit."
Adams recognized the full impact that gifted books can have upon their recipients, so she began a blog compiling the memories attached to books she had received.
In response, readers around the world shared their experiences with Adams, an act that moved her to publish the collected stories in their most treasured format: the printed book.
Each page offers a glimpse into the lives of those touched by books, an opportunity to see the lasting effect of those gifts.
One person refuses to finish reading a certain book for fear of losing the connection it built with the giver. Another praises a friend for helping her break a difficult bond by letting go of the books and the painful memories attached.
Some people read to remember a deceased loved one, while others look back on poorly selected books given by partners as foreshadowing to their relationships' inevitable end. Stories of forbidden romance, secrets shared through the printed word, cookbooks hinting at dreams of a future together — these are just a few of the types of stories shared in this compilation.
As Adams wrote in the introduction, "The books I own tell my life story, and the ones given to me by the people I love offer special insight into the experiences that have made me who I am."
This statement is proven page after page in her book, as each contributor reveals intimate details of life, love, loss, and the books that made them so.
Amber Castens is an adult and teen services librarian at the Urbana Free Library, where she is also the technology volunteer program coordinator.