Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 6, 2009 6:45 AM

The Most Valuable Book You Ever Read

As BookCamp Toronto is about to start, it go me thinking about what, exactly, books are and what they really mean (why do people love them so much)?

Lately, some very smart people (like Jeff Jarvis - author of What Would Google Do? and Blogger over at, BuzzMachine), has pleaded for the modernization of books and the book publishing industry. Jarvis commented at the O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishers conference in New York City this past year that for books to make it in a world of new media, they have to be findable, clickable, editable, commentable, updatable, searchable, linkable, etc...

It makes perfect sense, or does it?

Is it possible that books hold a two-step layer of appreciation, where that initial phase (the one where you simply read the book) is a very personal and intimate experience? It could be one of the few things in our world of online social networks and constant tweets that you share solely with yourself, and once that phase is complete, the discussion and sharing about your emotions (both online and in places like real-world book club meet-ups), is the part that needs to focus more on the new media and social aspects we're seeing online?

Books are going to have to figure out their way in this new world where individuals co-create, collaborate and manipulate their own media.

Still, books hold tremendous value to most people. They are objects to be honoured, cherished and even passed down from generation-to-generation. It is still the primary way we - as a society - preserve our stories, cultures, history and intellect.

In getting in the mood for the BookCamp Toronto unconference, I wondered:

What was the most valuable book you ever read?

I'm still grappling with the question, so I figured your most powerful read might inspire me.

By Mitch Joel