Computers and the internet have completely revolutionized how we view knowledge. Before libraries and book collections were the repositories of history and learning, but now the web has made virtually all information available to anyone who wants to look for it. And smart phones and tablets have made access to that knowledge even easier – now you can literally find the answer to any question in the palm of your hand.
Why even have a book collection anymore? That’s a great question, and one that’s getting harder to answer. But to narrow the focus a bit, I would like to suggest that there are a handful of books that everyone should have in their home. Not novels or religious books, but reference books. Just in case the computer crashes, or you can’t get reception on your phone, these are the books to have handy in case you ever need an answer quickly.
Dictionary – A complete, unabridged dictionary is something that should be in every home. For spelling, pronunciation, and definitions, it is an invaluable book, regardless of the level of technology in your home. A large hardback dictionary or a small paperback, it doesn’t matter, although in this case bigger is better. I personally recommend getting an encyclopedic, unabridged dictionary of the English language, not only is it the most complete dictionary but also comes with a grammar style guide, a rhyming dictionary, weights and measures, major dates in history, and major US historical documents (Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, etc).
Cookbook – Nothing fancy, just a basic cookbook. Even if you don’t cook meals very often, it can help you out in the pinch. First there are the scales of weights and measures (how many cups in a quart? How many pints in a gallon? Whats the different between a teaspoon and a tablespoon? What the heck is a “dash” of something?) and the basics of cooking that everyone should know but most of us don’t. And then, of course, there are all the recipes.
Atlas – First of all, let me say that a globe is superior to having an atlas. But if you don’t have a globe, some kind of book of maps for your country, or preferably the world, is important to have. If you are a parent, you will find yourself using it every week. If you are curious in nature, you will find yourself referring to it repeatedly. Even if you never use it, its good to have. What if you are somebody’s lifeline of Millionaire?
A Dumb History Book – I don’t mean that in a dismissive way, but either of the books World History for Dummies or The complete Idiots Guide to World History are equally good. They hit all the high notes, the major events and people, of history, and present them in a fun, easy to read format. The books are indexed, to make looking things up a lot easier.