Musing on the book burning times.

The title of this post belies the truth since the Qur’an burning of 2010 makes the ‘book burning times’ more current than we’d like it to be.

As a bibliophile, I cannot imagine burning a book. The Concise Oxford Dictionary is up to its 12th edition, and I still have my 8th edition sitting on a shelf somewhere because I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t throw it away, I’m not sure what recycling will do to it, and I can’t imagine what use a dictionary that is 4 editions behind the current one will be for anyone. So it sits on that shelf taking up space and dust. Meanwhile, there are people who are flippantly talking about burning books regardless of the consequences of that action.

As a bibliophile and a thinking person, the action of burning books from my perspective is akin to cutting out the tongue of my neighbour. And I have no right to that – no matter who that neighbour is or who he represents. I really believe that if something was deemed good enough to be put into print, then clearly it carries some message of value to someone.

The preservation of all literature is actually the picture-perfect argument for electronic books, isn’t it? Especially when we think of books that have been lost over the years as a result of people presiding as judge and jury over the expressions of others. This morning, my twitter timeline this morning yielded an article about 10 of the most horrific book burnings in literary history and it got me thinking about that Concise Oxford sitting on my shelf and how I’ve hung onto it like it was a prized heirloom.

While I am huge proponent for preserving first edition books and the sentimentality of them, I can also see how their content preserved in the digital age would have made sure we kept some of our rich human history on hand for future generations.

What is your feeling about the burning of books? Under what circumstances do you think you could participate in such an activity? And do you think that there should be an international law against such actions? What do you think is fitting punishment for committing the act if it were against the law? Tell us in the comments on our facebook fanpage.

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