I've loved books for as long as I've known how to read, which is since age 3. I learned to read from the newspaper, and the first word I remember ever making sense to me was Helsingin Sanomat, the name of the paper. I was a nerdy child and amused myself by reading whatever I got my hands on, although Arsene Lupin, biology and biochemistry were, for some reason, favourites. One would think that I grew up to be a genius but alas, that is certainly not the case. However, I'm happy to announce I didn't become a criminal either.
I'm not sure what in particular it is that's causing me to want the company of books so much - and it can indeed be called company, for they used to be that during my school years when no one else wanted to hang around me. I did well at school can you guess?
It could be that this is one reason why I find the presence of books so comforting, and being without books is almost a scary thought.
I like any and all books. I don't mind what they're about, even if they're about something I strictly disagree with. If I have a preference at all I would say I like old books better than new ones, and that some of my collection has come up from various paper bins because I can't bear the idea of throwing away a book. I don't like to think the words would disappear. I have trouble getting rid of the extra books I have and destroying books is upsetting to such levels it's ridiculous, but I have f.ex. once protested against tearing up a book for an art course... heh, well, poor books, they might have tried their best but clever they did not manage to make me!
Old books are better than new ones in only one thing: they're removed from the present. I don't have to get upset no matter what they say. I have f.ex. an old American storybook where children learn to behave well and pray to God, no matter what it takes. In one story a mother finds her flowerbed torn up and decides, based on her own opinion, that of her children her daughter rather than either of her sons is the guilty one. She has no evidence, just a hunch, and when the girl doesn't admit to it immediately she starves her until she makes a confession. Happy end!
Another one explains in great detail how white folk have responsibility to preach the good word in "black Africa" so that the N-word people can turn white in heaven. The book is called "By Our King's Orders in Africa" and yes, it's also a children's book.
A third is a Finnish health class book that stresses the importance of good hygiene. One must wash regularly and the places that are most important are face, ears, neck, armpits and gender. A daily change of clean underwear is recommended in order to avoid "developing masturbation". Hygiene is also suggested as a treatment if one or one's children show signs of this misconduct.
In short, those books all outdated and useless nevertheless let you take a peek at the past and can perhaps help the reader understand how the author thought and what kind of a society they lived in. In my humble opinion there's no such thing as a golden past where everything was perfect, everyone had a job and life was made of frolicking out on the meadows with four friends and a dog in tow: rather there's this past of questionable ethics, unyielding rules, poor health with no chance of ever getting better etc. Sure, the same past holds treasures such as handmade lace, beautiful architecture, amazing fashion and well, wonderful, wonderful books, but if I get to choose I'll stay right here in 2011 thank you...