OK, my wife says I need a positive, uplifting article to offset my many rather gloomy articles. And it is nearly Christmas. So what better topic to cheer us all up tremendously than books? What else can so easily bring smiles on the faces of one and all? What better issue to discuss at this festive season than this?
So let me write about a topic which – as some of you might have noticed – is near and dear to my heart. Any excuse will do to write about books. However, bear in mind that there are absolutes in life, and I am no relativist! Even in the area of books we have some vital dos and don’ts that we must be aware of.
Indeed, I am not an antinomian, and there are some basics we must always keep in mind here. Thus I present to you some long-forgotten but still relevant rules we all must follow. We must always keep in mind the Ten Commandments of Books. In case you have forgotten them, I present them here as a public service.
First Commandment: Thou shalt not say ‘I don’t like reading’.
This is a matter of idolatry: preferring TV, video games, computers and the rest to books! Such idolatry can only be dealt with in one way: by repentance, followed by the immediate purchase of some new books. And evidence of genuine repentance entails not just buying new books, but reading them as well.
Second Commandment: Thou shalt not have any fake books before me.
Obviously electronic books, Kindle and the like are all fake books. These evil items must be repented of immediately as well. A real book can be held in your hands, with pages turned. A real book can be sniffed for its new ink smells. A real book can – if needed – be used for a paperweight. Yes, real books rock.
Third Commandment: Thou shalt always buy a good book when you have the opportunity to do so.
As with all these commandments, this one is for your own good. Better to grab that book when you see it than to live with deep regret for years on end. How many lives have been ruined by violating this commandment? How many have rued the day they let that precious book elude their grasp?
Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt not say ‘I have too many books’.
Baloney! One can never have too many books. That is simply a fact of life. You might as well claim that you have too many children. The basic rule of thumb concerning books is this: you can always have one more. There, problem solved.
Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt not stop buying books due to lack of shelf space.
What an evil thought. One can always find more space to put up shelves or add more bookcases. It is really quite simple. Do you really need that bedroom? Is that kitchen so essential? What about that living room? All these rooms can easily be turned into nifty libraries. I mean really – where are your priorities?
Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not say ‘I can’t afford this book’.
Of course you can – this is also just a matter of priorities. One can always live without a meal or two. One can make do with that old fridge. One can simply hitchhike if the car dies. One can move into a tepee if the house payments cannot be met. But one must never stop buying books – ever.
Seventh Commandment: Thou shalt not destroy good paperback books by violating the 90-degree angle rule.
‘The what?’ I am glad you asked. Paperback books are rather fragile, and if you open them over 90 degrees, you risk breaking the binding, damaging the spine, and having the pages fall out. Thus the real book lover will always follow the 90-degree angle rule.
Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not ever think of giving away your books.
Imagine giving away your books – that is like saying you plan to give away your own children. How can anyone do that!? Sacrilege. Of course, even commandments can sometimes have an exception, and there is one here: If you plan to give your books away, but are going to give them to me, then that is OK. That is called loving your neighbour.
Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not steal Bill’s books.
This should go without saying. This is a fundamental rule of life. But sadly I have had people “borrow” my books, only for them never to return these beloved volumes. This is known as theft. There might be another commandment about that somewhere as well. Lopping off the book-stealer’s hands would be a good start in dealing with such evil folks.
Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not covet Bill’s books.
The commandments of course do not just deal with outward actions but inner attitudes. Sadly, there are many people in the world who lust after my books. They are covetous of my library, and they think constantly about getting their grubby paws on all my neat books. This is the epitome of sin, and must be repented of immediately.
In sum, to keep these commandments will result in a happy and fulfilled life, and living long in the land with peace and prosperity. These commandments are really not all that onerous and if faithfully kept, and will bring great joy and contentment.
Oh, and one final word: I realise that at this time of the year that many folks are wondering what they might get me as Christmas presents. I do not want to tell you what to do, but let me offer this small hint: it starts with ‘b’ and ends with ‘ooks’.