"Books And Other Arts" would seem fairly straight-forward as the name of a blog. But in some senses, it isn't. What comprises one person's art is possibly another person's trash. But starting with "books" seems to be a great place to begin. We can always explore "other arts"---and there are millions of them--a bit later.
I've often said that books were my first friends. I grew up with much older siblings, and as a consequence, I believe, of that, I learned to read at a very early age, and enjoyed most of what I read. Luckily, I did learn to make social connections, and had and still have "flesh and blood" friends, too. But at a young age, I developed a respect, a fascination and reverence for the written word that has continued through my life. I've been very blessed that way. Reading material hasn't simply served me well in providing information to me. It's been a source of entertainment, a way to pass what would be otherwise boring time (especially in airports), a method of re-directing a conversation when things start to get tough ("BTW, did you see that article in the paper [or on the web] today on childhood obesity?". This type of question might deflect my internist momentarily to a discussion about weight, for example.)
Journalists used to learn that when something was in print, it lived forever. Given that newspapers appear to be going the way of the high-button shoe, that observation is certainly up for debate these days. But books that have been in print for some time now have lived, if not forever, for long enough to have either a following or none, a sales history or a record of vanishing into "remainder-land" and have the power to influence, define or help save lives.
For a number of years until just recently, I was in "the book business". I worked for a large, well-known retailer of books. Budget cuts and the economy eliminated my position there. I'm still in mourning to some degree, as I thoroughly enjoyed being around other "bookish" people who shared a passion for reading each day. The book industry itself is undergoing such tumult these days, and it's impossible to predict what may happen. The Kindle, the Sony reader, and dozens of other inventions flooding the market each day (and it almost seems each hour) are promising to revolutionize reading and make life easier for readers. However, these devices are also oft-viewed as precursors of a rapidly vanishing printed page. Newspapers throughout the United States are folding or publishing less frequent editions.
The things I love best about life are reflected so well in books. Like life, some books are serious; some are informational in that they provide specific details on a task, like Chinese cooking or grant-writing. Other books are sheer entertainment, with a few facts thrown in here and there for good measure, or to "hook" the reader. Others still are works of art themselves, like pop-up books. (I have to confess my guilty pleasure, I really enjoy the art of pop-up books.)
8 hours ago