Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Shelf life Books are like old friends. Even though I enjoy traveling with my iPad, mostly because I no longer need to stuff big heavy books in my carry-on, I still love keeping favorite books close by on my bookshelves.

That’s why I have mixed feelings about using books as objects to be sculpted, torn, folded, or otherwise shaped into art. Part of me is unsettled when I see a book used for its shape instead of its content. Some of the art is imaginative and breathtakingly beautiful. Still, this new art form is a sign of a sea change in our relationship with books. Books were once revered. We handled them gently and scolded anyone who folded down a corner to mark a page. We packed our books like precious gems as we moved from one house to the next. We lent them out only to friends who we trusted to return them.

Tablet readers have allowed us to look at printed books in ways that were at one time inconceivable. I admire what artists are doing with books as objects, but I’m reassured when I remember my bookshelves at home and the friends there that I turn to for long, slowly unfolding conversations.

Contributed by Domenica