Why We Hauled 419 lbs (190kg) of Books to Europe (Instead of Getting a Kindle)

Why We Hauled 419 lbs (190kg) of Books to Europe (Instead of Getting a Kindle)

A fire burns in the hearth.

Three comfortable couches are set in a U-shape with the opening toward the fireplace, the perfect setting to curl up with a book.

Behind them are mahogany tables for studying, with chairs and lamps, globes and artifacts collected from around the world.

And on the walls, from floor to ceiling are books. Thousands and thousands of glorious books.

All of it created, designed, and collected to create an environment where great minds can gather and great ideas can be discussed.

A ‘school of liberal arts’, for ourselves, our peers, our children and grandchildren.

Around this library, we’ll build a house, and a community, filled with music, art, laughter, love and friends.

The liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person (Latin: liberal, “worthy of a free person”) to know in order to take an active part in civic life, something that (for Ancient Greece) included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were the core liberal arts, while arithmetic, geometry, the theory of music, and astronomy also played a part in education. — Wikipedia

With this vision in mind, we made the decision to move to Europe, to search for a place to have a home (the humid jungle of Costa Rica has a destroying influence on books, one of our reasons for not choosing it as our base).

With this ‘school of learning’ as our inspiration, we eliminated most of our belongings, packed a few clothes, and books, books, books. Hundreds of pounds of books.

“Why not just get a Kindle?” you ask, “Or re-purchase them once you get there?”

Well, we do own four Kindles. And we do read ebooks. And repurchasing may have been cheaper than the ‘extra baggage’ fees we had to pay on Condor Airlines.

But that’s not good enough, because of the way we read books. And the part we want them to play in our life, and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Buying and reading a book is akin to starting a new friendship — you meet, get to know each other, and (if you’re reading a book the right way), you have a conversation within the pages. We write in our books. Underline. Share thoughts and insights. Argue and disagree. Rant and rave. Praise and laud.

The books we own contain more than just the words of the author. They contain our own ideas and thoughts about what the author had to write. Something that our children (and grandchildren) will get to read (and add to, and agree or disagree with our notes) when they read the book… the same book, markings and all.

If you look at them that way, our books are priceless.

This is the way leaders read. This is the way ‘The Great Conversation‘ is continued and passed to the next generation. This is the way a legacy is left for posterity. And it’s why real books are so much more important than ebooks.

Having a Kindle to read is like having a menu for eating. The menu can show you options, but it doesn’t compare to the real thing — choosing from a buffet of salivating food.

A library of books is like a buffet for your family. It gives them something to look at, touch, handle, caress and feel, something they can actually develop a real relationship with, complete with emotions and memories. You can’t do that with a kindle book.

“Neuroscience, in fact, has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper than from a screen… if you don’t use the deep reading part of your brain, you lose the deep reading part of your brain.

So what’s deep reading? It’s the concentrated kind we do when we want to “immerse ourselves in a novel or read a mortgage document,” Zoromodi says. And that uses the kind of long-established linear reading you don’t typically do on a computer.” [1]


“the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does”. [2]

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