A few years ago one of the morning dailies in India, printed an article about how it was time to let paperbacks and hardcover books retire to that dusty and almost hidden place that ancient and forgotten things disappear to, now that we had things like the kindle. 
That paper, claims to be the 3rd largest selling newspaper in any language in the world! 

I am not going to lie. I was quite shaken. And I wrote this small defense.  

A Defense for Reading.

With fire and smoke in her nostrils and soft tears running down her creamy cheeks, Cleopatra famously confronted Caesar with these words “…tear down pyramids, wipe out cities, play conqueror all you want Mighty Caesar! Rape, murder, pillage thousands, millions of human beings but neither you, nor any other barbarian has the right to destroy one human thought!
The Great Library of Alexandria was burning, and along with it was burning the millions of human thoughts that taught Mankind to live, to question, to dream.
The dream of one day flying, soaring through the sky and challenging the eagle. The dream of one day backpacking on the Moon! The dream of diving below the blue ocean and exploring the hereto lost worlds.
For these and many more “human thoughts” is what was burning along with the Great Library.
If it were not for books and the inevitable consequent task, rather joy of reading them, these dreams and their consequent successful flowering into reality would be lost to us, and the society (if it would be capable enough to be called that) of humans would be a dull, sordid affair, devoid of any charm or mystery.
Rather than being “people who are lost in their own worlds”, the “book-reader” is a species that has the yearning to interact with the maximum number of people and places that this universe holds. Because reading a book is identical to talking to the author of the book, and in such intimate details which would otherwise be impossible if you would actually be facing the real person.
“But in my opinion, the Web would suffice for such a task…” would be a common skeptic’s answer.
Yes, but have you ever smelled a book?
Have you ever, while on a cleaning spree come across a small bonded book with yellowing pages and a tiny scrawl across its first page, telling you “This book belongs to Geeta Kanoria”, your mother’s maiden name.

I rest my case.

I came across the Libraries in Exile today, and they asked who would we like to dedicate our support of the Library to. And I was reminded of Cleopatra.


  1. Nothing beats the feel of a 'real' book! I have several versions of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, hard cover and paperback, illustrated and without pictures and I can't wait to pass them on to my granddaughter (who still begs to be created one day - in about 15-20 years time) with a personalised inscription at the front...

    1. How lovely and exciting your library sounds! Books truly are the best inheritance that children receive from their elders. They are magical windows into the lives of parents and grandparents, either filled with doodles and notes or so well preserved as if brand new. You have lucky future grandchildren!