Musing About the Joy of Books

I’m hearing from folks all over the country that their copies of Through a Screen Darkly are arriving in the mail.

Isn’t it strange? You can write about anything on the Internet, and it can be read all over the world instantly. But if you put it on paper, and it takes days for it to arrive somewhere in the mail, suddenly everybody agrees that it’s a reason to celebrate!

The Internet is great, but as far as I’m concerned… books are still the best mode of reading. When you hold the book, turn the page, and have the whole thing in a lasting package that can be handed on from one person to the next, one generation to the next… and you can mark things and highlight things… that’s something special.

Not only that, but when you’re online, you have the option of switching from subject to subject rapidly. And you are always aware of your own power to engage and respond.

With a book, you’re required to be humble and patient… and to chew on what is served to you.

I took some time out from the computer today to read Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book, and I felt so refreshed. Part of that was the beauty and profundity of what Peterson has written. And part of it was the fact that I wasn’t staring at a glowing screen, but looking at ink on paper and relaxing into the pleasure of the language.

And the Internet’s got nothing on books when it comes to olfactory aspect. Peterson’s Eat This Book makes me want to taste and digest good literature, but I keep holding the book up to my nose too, just to breathe that new-book smell…

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    I love that new-book smell.

    I also dig the fact that books don’t need batteries or power sources.