North Coast Neighbors Share a Book

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First Place: John Lawrence O'Donnell of West Geauga High School

Since the beginning of history, books have created a unique opportunity. They have served as a way to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next. This accumulated knowledge is gathered into libraries across the world. Books teach lessons to many about human nature and life itself. As explained in Fahrenheit 451, books are not judged by their covers. The experiences of countless generations are held in them. Books are repositories of human knowledge. They give the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past. Nothing even in modern times compares to books in usefulness. Books will never lose their value or be replaced by modern technology.

On the other hand, some say that books can be replaced by technology. They say that the usefulness of books will fade in time as faster ways to transport information become available, and the internet will become the main object in the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. Also, the news will keep the general populace up to date with the events shocking the world. Although these arguments are compelling, they are all erroneous. Books, unlike the internet, have the ability to create an entire world within them. Also, someone can easily manipulate the internet to serve his or her wants. Modern news helps to keep most up to date, but it serves as an empty relay of information. Without books to explain policy and history, the news can never completely explain what events are transpiring.

Books create an environment that modern technology cannot. When sitting back to read a book, the reader is transferred into a completely different world. Modern technology fails to do this. Modern technology serves as a direct relay of the author's thoughts, but it is an extreme rarity to find an article on the internet that gives insight into that thought. Books do this magnificently with their ability have the reader identify with the characters in the books. Movies and television also fail in this respect. Although movies based on books such as Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings become hugely successful, rarely does a person exit the theater and proclaim that the movie is better than the book. Why? Modern media is restricted by time. Writers are pressed to pack as great a punch as possible into just a few hours. On the other hand, books are free from such time. A book can be infinitely long to allow an author to express his or her ideas. Lastly, books leave the world up to the imagination. Although authors often give elaborate descriptions of a setting, the book still calls on the imagination. Movies and television leave nothing to the imagination. The props replace what the imagination has contrived. This constricts how far the mind can expand to understand the surrounding world.

Books' importance will never diminish to a value lower than modern technology. Unlike modern technology, books create a timeless view of the world. Modern technology seeks to throw information at the viewer so quickly as to force it into their consciousness. This fails to create any understanding in the audience. Books on the other hand carefully give the reader a view of the world unlike anything they have seen. Due to this, books are of much higher value than modern media. Books also depict human thought throughout the ages. From Cicero to Shakespeare to Vonnegut man discovers that although the way of life changes, humanity is always bound to the same basic thought. Books show how men have always strived to better themselves, and because of this, books are even beyond compare to modern media.

For these reasons books will never depreciate in value. Modern technology can only create a shallow one-sided view of the world. In a society where the pace of life is always increasing, books are a way to relax. Books also give frightening insights into war and human nature. From shocking novels about civilized children becoming murderous when stranded on an island to brilliant antiwar arguments, books help to extend human understanding. Books expand our experience to what others have seen, and for this reason their value cannot and will not ever diminish.

North Coast Neighbors Share a Book is coordinated by the Cleveland Area Metropolitan Library System, 20600 Chagrin Blvd., Ste. 500, Shaker Heights, OH 44122 p.