I feel blessed that my parents made a point to read to me from birth. I learned to read at a young age, and have had a lifelong love affair with books. Books are of the utmost importance to society as well as to individuals.
Books preserve history. How much would we know of the past without the literary works and historical records that survived into modern times? They give us a glimpse into societies that are long gone. Fiction can provide us with many of the details of everyday life that official paperwork, such as governmental documents, cannot provide. It tells us what people ate, how they spent their leisure time, and what values were important.
Books help us learn. When many people think of books and education, they think of their textbooks from school or outdated encyclopedias. However, there is a wide world of nonfiction out there to educate us on every subject imaginable. When I want information on something new, it only takes a trip to the public library. Books spread ideas and philosophy, from Plato to Wittgenstein and everyone in between.
Books take us to places we may never have the chance to visit. In books, I can walk the plains of Middle Earth, comb the forests of Narnia, or explore the secret passages of the Hogwarts castle. I can visit the polar icecaps, the Great Wall, or the Egyptian Pyramids. Whether real or fantasy, books can be my own personal travel agent and whisk me around the world.
Books engage our imagination. When we watch movies or television, we are given the entire scene in front of our eyes. When we read, however, we get to picture the characters and the scenes. We get to fill in the details and daydream. Books allow us to be the director. They provide us entertainment and joy.
Many people seem to do their reading solely on the internet nowadays. However, I will always enjoy the comfort of a good book. They are easier on my eyes and I can curl up in front of the fireplace with one on cool winter nights. I love bookstores and libraries, and could spend days there. Books are like an old friend that I can always go back to.
The written word was one of the major advancements leading towards modern civilization. Without it, where would we be today?