The Case for a Full Bookshelf

Allison Underwood

It’s okay to keep your books.

Those old works of literature, anthologies, document design books– it’s okay to keep them on your bookshelf. The end of a semester comes and I never know what to do with my books. As an English major myself, I wrestled with this problem throughout my college career. I just spent months pouring into these texts, marking up their pages with my own thoughts as well as comments my professors have made. Throwing them away is not an option. It’s possible to sell them, but again– I just spent months in their pages. This problem is particularly relevant to professional writing students. The books in that particular branch of English are such a valuable resource. I don’t think I’ll be rereading Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend from a past literature class anytime soon, but I’ve already looked at The Non-Designer’s Design & Type Book by Robin Williams a few times this semester for extracurricular design work. Sure, I could have Googled what I was looking for, but that’s another reason professional writing books are great to keep around. Even though books are essentially out of date the moment they print, books in the professional writing field will always have an edge on online resources. The first result on a Google search for “document design rules” is “The 50 Most Important Rules of Document Design.” This article was a wall of text, even the section on the color wheel. By the time I scrolled down the long online list, eyes blurring, trying to find the subtitle I needed– I could have flipped through Williams’ book and seen an image related to my topic of interest. That isn’t to say all webpages are a wall of text, but students may be more likely to remember something their book said. I would rather look in an old textbook for the concept I vaguely remember than look online for an article that might not give me the same advice. I can look at my books for something a professor said about a certain topic. I can go back into my original frame of mind when I first read the text. I can read my old insights and pen my new.

Keep your textbooks– they’ll always be useful, even if their use is taking up bookshelf space and helping you appear smarter.</p


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