08 September 2010

Burning Books

I've never particularly seen the significance of burning books. It's a symbolic act of destroying information, but the wonderful thing about the written word is that, especially in the digital age, it's not tied to a physical object. Burn as many of a book as you want, and as long as there's one copy left, it can be reproduced exactly. The written word, human language and our capacity to reproduce them are an not only awe-inspiringly beautiful, but astoundingly resilient. The pages and the size and the smell of books are nice and all, but that's really nothing compared to the text itself.

So I think this coming Saturday (the 11th) should be Everybody Burn a Great Book Day.

I think I'll burn 'To Kill a Mockingbird', as I remember sitting in my room, aged sixteen and halfway through my GCSE English Literature, and realising for the first time, during the courtroom passage, that reading great novels isn't just homework. It's interesting, it's gripping, it's thought provoking, it's fun, and that's what they were actually written for. I also have a spare charity-shop copy that only cost 79p. So on Saturday, to show how Harper Lee's words are more than ink and paper and stronger than fire, I will commit a classic of American literature to the sky and ashes.

PS. If you do burn a book on Everybody Burn A Great Book Day, make sure it's one you like, as we'll all assume that's the case.

Edit: PPS. Oh nuts, just realised it conflicts with someone else's book-burning event. I hope this doesn't get awkward.

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