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August 26, 2010 / Melissa

Books are your best friend and your biggest support.

Lesson 8:  When all else is unstable in the world, a book gives you best friends and new adventures.  And a world of information at your fingertips!  After all, “the greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind.  It is a moral illumination.”  Elizabeth Hardwick

As I’ve moved four times in the past year or so, I have realized the bulk of my packed boxes are filled to the brim with books.  Books about psychology, non-fiction, fiction, PostSecret books, treatment manuals, inspirational books.  You name it.  And I’ve started to think about the importance of such books in a person’s life.

While taking an on-line courses this summer, we were asked to report on how many of the most challenged books (since 2000) we have read.  There were students in my class who read 4.  Four out of a list of 100.  We aren’t talking about obsolete books here.  Classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Are you there God?  It’s me, Margaret, Bridge to Terrabethia, The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter even.  My initial reaction was sadness for those who never developed a love for reading.  I couldn’t imagine NOT having at least 4-5 books on my to-read list.

But then I started to think about WHY I read.  As a child, you couldn’t pull a book out of my hand.  I spent many a nights staying up with a book and a flashlight.  I would be engrossed into the world of Ramona Quimbly, Cam Jensen, Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew, the Boxcar Children, the Baby-Sitter Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and the American Girls.  These “friends” growing up created friends for an imaginative mind like mine, and instilled the importance of reading.  They provided a resource.

As an adult, if you walk into any type of difficulty, books have answers.  Suze Orman writes abotu FICO scores and financial planning.  Self-help books are continually top-sellers.  Non-fiction provides inspiring stories.  Fiction allows one to escape into a fantasy world when a physical escape is not possible.  There are millions of books, waiting to provide answers for you.  For free at the library no less.

I suppose the second part of this is learning about important resources at a young age.  I see so many young students with ACT and SAT word prep books, GRE prep books, LSAT, MCAT.  What are these?  Prep books for a life choice.  But once you make a choice in life, that doesn’t mean the prep was complete.  Just because I took the GREs, got into grad school, and finished doesn’t mean life’s done.  Unfortunately (fortunately?), it’s just beginning.  Now you have to continually build your resources to simply maintain.  Even when one is afraid to say “Hey, I need help,” a less vulnerable way to seek out that help is to pick up a book and read it.

What books have you found to be your best friend or biggest support?

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3 Comments

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  1. candice peck / Aug 26 2010 10:30 PM

    Melissa, I will comment more in the future, I am also a book “hoarder”…(i still mourn all the
    books i gave away, threw away, sold, in the past, wondering what’s become of my little orphans out there, wishing i had them back, and that i had enough shelf space to display them all)…but now i just wanted to mention 2 things. 1. as you add posts, are they your first draft? or have
    you already edited? some seem raw & unfinished or w/ mechanical errors, some seem more
    polished, how do you see the process for a public blog? 2. Katherine Paterson, author of
    “Bridge to Terabithia”, lives around the corner, in Barre, VT, from where steve’s mom lived until
    she passed away in June; her new book, “The Day of the Pelican”, is the VT Reads 2010
    selection…i’ve just finished it & look forward to nearby programs w/ the author & the public…the book is about a family of Albanian Kosovoan muslims who are refugees and end up transplanting to vermont…
    keep writing/breathing/loving/learning/smiling
    candy

  2. Grace Lee / Aug 27 2010 8:32 AM

    Dear Melissa,

    After my whirlwind tour of six different cities in the last four days (Pittsburgh, Annapolis, Arlington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville), one of the main highlights was when I visited Monticello. While there, I gained a newfound admiration and respect — which I didn’t even think possible — for one of my favorite presidents. Although one of the most brilliant Americans to ever exist, I admired how more than anything, he craved just to be back at his secluded Virginia plantation in order to do and be around the things that made him feel most himself, such as his garden, his homemade ‘science experiments,’ and his books. I didn’t know this, but at one time, he had one of the most extensive libraries in America. I was told that he sold his entire library collection at one point, then ended up just buying them back all over again because as he said, “I cannot live without books.”

    Isn’t it sad that in this age of technology, people are increasingly becoming less dependent on books as a life source? I have also fallen victim to that, which is why I’m really excited in a way to be living without internet for the next couple months. I hate sitting in front of the computer, and then realizing 4 hours later how much time I wasted on the internet. I never feel that way with books, and I think this will be a good way for me to ‘reacquaint’ myself with my old friends — I’ve missed them, and I’m certain they’ve missed being read by me.

  3. moose / Aug 27 2010 3:05 PM

    some of my favorite books are God never sleeps – regina brett, everyday faith – terry pluto
    and any of the mitch albom books – I always find these books giving me peace and reminding me I dont have it so bad and should not sweat the small stuff and they remind me what is important (and unimportant )

    I have been trying to read a little more

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