How Will History Remember Your Writing?

This Week In Writing, we talk about the magic found in old books

How Will History Remember Your Writing?
“Old Books” by Justin Cox and Midjourney

I love old books. Whenever I find myself in a thrift store, I look for unique hard-bound copies. My collection isn’t valuable, but it captures history. Plus, old books look really cool.

While on vacation this past week, I found a copy of the White House Cookbookpublished in 1928. It was an instant purchase, if not for the depression-era recipes but for the history the book represents.

Published in Ohio, the book is an “illustrated” work with hundreds of pages of recipes and explanations. Want to know what to prepare for a state dinner? This book has you covered.

The seller told me she purchased the White House Cookbook at auction for $50. Why she sold it to me for $28 is anyone’s guess, but I gladly paid.

The beauty of books is that, while they’re published for a specific place and time, the physical copies are timeless. They may be long out of print but will often find second (or third or fourth) lives by being lent or resold. There’s no telling how many hands the White House Cookbook passed through before it ended up in my suitcase.

99% of my writing is digital. Will future generations joyfully discover old writing online like I seek old books? Probably not — but then again, you never know.

The Internet Archive tracks every website throughout time (for better or worse). While not the same as discovering old books, it is possible to discover older copies (and designs) of online writers. Maybe someone on TikTok will “discover” GeoCities blogs the same way they “find” 90’s grunge music.

I hope that my words find life outside of the current time. Knowing that copies of my book may find their way to future thrift stores is both exciting and nauseating. After all, I regret devoting nearly an entire chapter to marketing on Twitter — I’ll likely have to update that section at some point. Either way, the copies are out there in the world, and I hope they inspire people today and in the years to come.

What is your favorite old book on your shelf?

Speaking Of Books…

My Writing Community is hosting our first book club! We’re reading The Secret Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I began reading it on the plane this week, and so far, it’s lovely. There is also a film adaptation that was just added to Hulu that I look forward to watching once I finish reading. Our live chat about the book is on March 2, and you can join us by upgrading your subscription to This Week In Writing.

Speaking Of Upgraded Subscriptions…

The response to My Writing Community and the upgraded version of This Week In Writing has been phenomenal! Thank you to everyone for reading my weekly thoughts, and a special thank you to those who are financially supporting my work.

I’m considering other ways to show my appreciation and add to the upgraded version of This Week In Writing. There’s no timeline or details (yet), but know that I’m considering additional perks. Have an idea? Send it my way!

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!