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What Is the Good of Books?

What is the good of books? Why are people so eager to exchange green paper bearing the imprint of the United States mint for white paper with the ideas of men and women printed on it? Take the paper out of the question entirely and we have one kind of wealth on one side and another kind of wealth on the other side. The wealth represented by money probably exhibits the result of your efforts to accomplish practical purposes. It is yours to invest. When you invest it in the things that books contain you are not buying so much ink and paper but really investing in a kind of educational wealth which is the most productive of all our possessions. Many a book has paid the owner interest a thousand times as great as his bank account. This is equally true of magazines.

Musical books might be classified in many ways. Let us try one grouping which may throw light upon their intrinsic worth.

Books of facts.
Books of directions.
Books of materials.
Books of inspiration.

Could you tell which class is the most important? We could not. Destroy all the libraries and all the book-shops and civilization would go back five hundred years. Histories, biographies, geographies, geologies, chemistries, geometries are all books of facts that men need in their daily lives, need far more than money. Books of directions such as guide books for travel, books on engineering, books on the technic of any of the arts, books on writing, books on agriculture, books on domestic science record the results of interminable experiments of our predecessors. Consider how many fruitless trials you might have to make in baking a loaf of ordinary bread if you had no directions to follow. Books on the technical side of music clip months—years—out of your labor if you are wise enough to invest in them.

Books of materials are indispensable for all special workers. The architect cannot build from his imagination alone; he must have pictures of thousands of forms evolved in the past. The dressmaker, the navigator, the actor, the musician must all have books of materials,—but in music the book of materials plays perhaps the most important part. In making book investments, never regret buying good materials,—a fine edition of Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt or Mozart, or the needed technical exercises which will become a part of you if you use your investment so that it will pay the greatest dividend.

Books of inspiration are the dynamo books. They give power. They start your engine going and keep it running. They are the motors of success. No one can get very far without them. Whether they inspire activity, reflection, thrift, morality, study or merely alertness the book of inspiration should be your pocket companion all year round. Invest in books, and then more books, and then more books.

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