I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Relevancy of Books

I'm a member of a group called the Christian Author's Network. In February, on our blog, we addressed this question: Are books still relevant?

Here was my response:

In my opinion, books are not only still relevant today, but they are more relevant than in most previous ages. Books have always allowed previous generations to pass on knowledge, and more importantly, wisdom to future generations. But it seems to me that our culture is becoming more aliterate (able to read, but not interested in it) with each passing year and as a result we are becoming more detached from the wisdom of the generations who preceded us.

That's a problem not easily fixed, but I love the fact that no matter what the ebb and flow of any given culture is, books remain on library and bookstore shelves just waiting to be discovered or rediscovered. And when that happens, the joys and challenges that previous generations once experienced from the same books will be experienced by future generations.

Books often become a permanent record of what life looked like when the author wrote them—especially fiction. Jane Austin preserved 19th century British culture for us. Leo Tolstoy preserved 19th century Russian culture. Flannery O'Connor preserved the provocative side of early 20th century American culture in the south. And the list goes on.

Oddly, time isn't so kind to non-fiction books—which are considered "dated" when illustrations are no longer current. But I still love to read old non-fiction books. I recently read Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. The book was published in 1965, and yes, the illustrations and some of the advice he gave is dated (one of which is to make sure you have a new typewriter ribbon as you begin to work on a project), but it's the best technical book I've ever read about the craft of writing fiction. I'm thankful that he wrote it because forty years later, it's turning me into a better novelist.


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