By in Personal

I have no more excuses for not knowing my world geography

We went to a local public library book sale last weekend, looking for a few good books to read.

The Grand Prairie Public Library semi-annual book sale provided my wife and myself a lot of books to choose from.

A fter rummaging through hundreds of books, magazines, paperbacks, hardbacks and some computer media, I managed to find at least 10 good books. Among these was the READER'S DIGEST ILLUSTRATED GREAT WORLD ATLAS.

And also I found a book by Ayn Rand, called THE FOUNTAINHEAD and some books about Military aircraft and model aircraft.

W hen our friend came over to visit yesterday, I showed him my illustrated world atlas and he checked the date of it's publication and he said, "This book is old. It was copyrighted in 1997." But I think that the world geography has hardly changed in the past 22 or some odd years. It is kind of silly to be concerned about the age of certain books. A used set of encyclopedias still would provide an excellent source of information even if it had been published in the 50s.

I f it were so important to keep updated with old books as we seem to be keeping updated with Windows operating systems and apps, not to mention recent remakes of older motion pictures, we might lose a lot of valuable information. The thing is, I find old books to be like gold. The idea of some book, like the book by Ayn Rand, although not recently published, a constant.

F or one thing, something as common as a desktop dictionary. The words don't change their meaning. The definition of a word remains constant. The idea of reading from a book is to break the time barrier. To go back in history to learn from the past.

S o, I know I can learn world geography by reading from a nearly 25 year old book. The thing I like most about books is that they remain the same. There are no alterations, no variations. Fact remains fact. You can Google something online, but the results will often be misleading and so varied as to confuse.

N ow that I have my new collection of old books, I can learn from them. One of the oldest books on earth is the Bible. It has undergone many published variants. I often think about what it would be like to have been one of the first to read the original Bible. If I had lived that long ago, no doubt I would have heard the stories by word of mouth. As to the world atlas, Well, I don't shrug about it being a book that was published a quarter of a century ago. It is still, in my opinion, a very excellent source of information to look at.

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VinceSummers wrote on April 30, 2019, 7:29 AM

So the issue you've raised is, how fast does "knowledge" change? Meanings of words do not quickly change in general. Of course, some do. In time. For instance: "terrific" used to mean something that terrified. Geography does not change. Boundaries and names change. Geography is constant (well, except for Dubai, etc.). I'd thought Ayn Rand was that eccentric weirdo (sorry if I offend here...). However I take up your side of the issue overall. Encyclopedias are useful. Even dictionaries. You see, there is another way language changes. Dictionaries often enter words and changed definitions and especially pronunciations with the ebb and flow of the masses. For instance, we say AB-duh-men. But it was formerly pronounced ab-DOUGH-mun. And since so many fail to say words correctly, now some word pronunciations are reflecting that sad fact. But if we're too quick to get rid of the old, we lose some of the valid knowledge of the past, which is now considered irrelevant or unimportant. And it saves money not to print as much stuff and thin books down.

MegL wrote on April 30, 2019, 1:53 PM

Books are a great source of pleasure and information. I love old book stalls and library book sales but my home bookshelves are already groaning!