What Would We Lose in a World Without Books?

The young, independent author and filmmaker Mason Engel is probably best known for his science fiction novel “2084.” But it might be his latest project – the ambitious documentary “Books Across America” – that will surely get him noticed for his love of literature as he travels to all 50 states, reading 50 books and conducting interviews with 50 authors in 50 days. At the end of each interview with the authors, Engel asks the provocative question, “What would we lose in a world without books?” The answers are both heart wrenching and hopeful.

Engel’s journey recently led him to the UC San Diego Library’s Signature Event Series, where he had an insightful conversation with University Librarian Erik Mitchell. Their discussion centered around the significance of stories and their influential power in our lives. Engel, who wrote his first book during his senior year of high school, shares his relentless passion for storytelling and never ceased his pursuit of writing since then.

Engel also explores the unique world of independent bookstores, shedding light on the origin stories of numerous authors and the intriguing process of self-publishing. He reflects on the impact of the pandemic on these bookstores, and says that while the pandemic hit them hard, they are thriving.

“After we emerged from quarantine and isolation, we realized what we had been missing and what we were lacking at that time. That’s something that bookstores provide…the connection and interfacing with people.”

Watch A Conversation with Filmmaker and Author Mason Engel.

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