“One must be careful of books and what is inside of them, for words
have the power to change us.”
– Cassandra Clare
Have you ever read a book that challenged the way you think?
Opened a door?
Inspired a change?
Soothed your heart?
As an author or author-to-be, have you considered the impact you could have? Does it feel exciting? And can you also feel the gravity?
I am so grateful for books. As a kid, one thing I was good at was reading. It came naturally to me, and I loved it. Reading got me a ticket out of my classroom and into a wider world where people, places, and things existed beyond my previous imagining.
My teachers realized I was reading far above my grade level, so they let me go to the library and read whatever I wanted. I dabbled in Norse mythology, classic literature, spirituality, and even self-help books.
It was as if they had given me an invitation into parallel realities…
Think about writers who have changed perceptions, influenced a generation, created new worlds, and opened our minds, hearts and souls to entirely new possibilities.
A few who come to mind are: Malcolm Gladwell, Angela Davis, Susan Sontag, and Deepak Chopra. And not to mention fiction writers such as CS Lewis, Charles Dickens, and Barbara Kingsolver.
These are powerful and impactful writers. Do you think they started out knowing or even thinking of the impact they could make? I’m sure some did, while others were expressing what they had to share, following an inner calling.
The Endless Expanse of Perspective
Many authors will tell you that reading expanded their world. It was certainly true for me. Through books, I came to realize that other realities existed. I remember reading mythology of all kinds, and wondering how individuals and societies “made up” these ideas. At a young age, it made me question the religious concepts I was being raised with. How did a society come to believe in the things they did, while others believed something vastly different? I was curious why Eastern philosophy was so different from what I was learning at church. What was real or right? And how come we didn’t have cool, fantastical gods like the Norse god Loki?
While all that was confusing to my young brain, it also opened my mind to multiple perspectives, often simultaneously. All these ideas made me realize there were different ways to live, to think, to create. The possibilities were endless, if I could imagine them.
Slogans, Mantras, Spells, Curses, Blessings, and Prayer
Words are powerful. There’s no doubt about that. Stringing words together is really kind of magical. People use words in so many ways across cultures, generations, and religions. Words can heal, help, and inspire. They can also incite division, hopelessness, and fear. We’ve seen a lot of that throughout history and in recent times. Words can work like a balm to our spirit, and books can transport us to places of rest and light. Books became my refuge from the conflict and uncertainty that was going on in my home as a child. I believed then and now that escaping into a story or a different way of thinking is a coping skill that supports my mental health. Even reading The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill A Mockingbird, while they are not happy stories, expanded my worldview and increased my understanding and empathy. Other types of books, such as Catcher in the Rye, were more fun, and for me, even more so if they were controversial.
Reasons for Becoming a Writer
All of these things are reasons enough to read, and also to write. Books, and the authors who penned them, inspired me to explore that kind of impact too. It is a gift and a responsibility. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had as a child to indulge my passion for reading. And I’m grateful for the gifts that authors continue to share with the world, one reader at a time.
If you are a budding author, I encourage you to deeply consider the gift you are sharing, as well as the responsibility for the impact you impart. I know that many, if not all of the authors I’ve worked with, describe how magical it is when a reader reaches out to thank them for their words, or even argue a point. It fulfills every author’s dream of sharing something that can change a life.
So, during this season of gratitude, I want to thank all of the authors I have read and all the authors I have had the honor of serving. Thank you for sharing your vulnerable heart in service to readers you may never know, but who benefit from your experience, wisdom, and insight.
“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”
– Carl Sagan