- Books, Literature, and Writing
How Books Inspire Imagination
“I've traveled the world twice over, met the famous; saints and sinners, poets and artists, kings and queens, old stars and hopeful beginners, I've been where no-one's been before, learned secrets from writers and cooks. All with one library ticket to the wonderful world of books.”
~ Anonymous ~
As Dr. Seuss once said,“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” I have been to the moon, seen the stars, and I have seen all of this from the window of a spaceship. I have been to the great plains of Africa, seen zebra, and socialized with tribal men. I was there when Abraham Lincoln gave his powerful Gettysburg Address, and I was there when Henry VIII convicted his wives. How can I do all these things? I can answer this quite simply. To go to these places, I step into a mysterious world where everything comes alive. I can go anywhere and be anyone. What kind of device do I use to do this? The device I use is a book. As John Kieran once said, “I am a part of everything that I have read.” This quote is very true. Every time I open a book I step in to a new world, a world where anything is possible, and where there isn’t a limit on the experiences to be had. Through books we can go anywhere, be anyone, learn anything, and become better people.
When I step through the pages of a book, I can pop up anywhere. I have been to outer space, the great Sahara desert, and rode the high seas into a sunset. Looking into a book is like looking into a window to a brand new world. When I opened The Morcai Battalion by Diana Palmer, I stepped into a battleship in the middle of space. I was there to experience everything along with the crew. I saw how much work it takes to run a ship. I was there in those scary moments in battle where it was life or death. How can I view all of this through a book? I do not believe people have to actually be there, in order to experience the unknown. Sometimes what we experience in books is better than it could have been in real life. As Anna Tyler explains, “I was born with the impression that what happened in books was much more reasonable, interesting, and real, in some ways, than what happened in life.” I know how it feels to have all the moisture in the air be evaporated by eleven in the morning. I have experienced how uncomfortable and smelly a camel can be, even though I have never had to ride a smelly camel. These experiences are all in my mind. When I read a book I am always there alongside the characters. To row down a channel in a sixty foot Viking worship with a salty breeze wiping across the bow would be a great experience. This is an experience I would love to have in real life, but for now I am compelled to just read about this experience. In Josie Litton’s book Believe in Me, hearing the author explain a sunset makes the sunset feel so real. Litton explains a sunset as being “a gentle caress of warmth slowly sinking below the bow, disappearing into a watery oblivion, and with it brings the day into night.” It’s these kinds of descriptions that make reading a book feel so real. It’s almost as if I’m standing there with the hero, Captain Hawk, and gazing out onto the water after a harsh battle. Jim Bishop once said, “Books, I found, have the power to make time stand still, retreat, or fly into the future.”
Who am I? I am myself, yet books allow me to live many lives. Scott Corbett once said,“I often feel sorry for people who don't read good books, they are missing a chance to lead an extra life.” Books do allow us to live many lives. There are many times when I feel as if I have been sucked into a character’s role in a story. I might feel like that child who sat in the back of the room. I felt like I was that guy who’s struggling in music, or I many feel like that soldier learning to survive on his own. The new kid is something seen in many teen novels today. I can relate to this, because in my life I have been the new kid so many times. I know how lonely it feels to sit in the back of the room and not know a single person. I know how it feels to be left out, because I can’t always relate to the kids who’ve known each other all their lives. Books can pull us into new worlds, and worlds that are very similar to our own. Hazel Rochman once said, “Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.” Joe Jackson, a famous musician, recalls how hard it was growing up poor, and how difficult it was to raise money for an instrument for school. In Jackson’s biography, Jackson just pulls the audience in to the pages of this book. His joy at finally making enough money to buy a second hand piano is so contagious, it is almost like the reader’s the one who got the piano. When reading a book, people can leave the real world for awhile. They can leave behind their demanding work and for a few hours and be someone else. In Tom Clancy’s book Clear and Present Danger, we can escape to the jungles of South America and tough it out as a soldier. This book takes us up front to the action. Clancy’s book describes soldiers’ daily activities and strategies so well, it is almost like we’re there to take part in it all. Books have the ability to place us into the minds of others. Books allow us to enjoy the life of others while retaining our own.
The Best Teachers
Books are the greatest teachers. They will always be there for us to reflect upon. Richard De Bury describes books as “masters who instruct us without rods of ferules, without words or anger, without bread or money; if you approach them, they are not asleep; if you seek them, they do not hid; if you blunder, they do not scold; if you are ignorant, they do not laugh.”Through books we can learn anything. They won’t mock us for trying either. Through books, we can take our sweet time learning things that interest us. Through books, we learn many things. We can learn from others people’s experiences, we learn the past, and we learn things for our futures. In books we can learn that not everyone is perfect. We view other peoples’ mistakes and learn from them. We can observe how people behave as well. In Jill Shalvis’s book Blue Flame, there is a firefighter that made the mistake of going into a burning building, which was next to a large propane tank. The firefighter survives but suffers from burns on his back for the rest of his life. This book teaches use to access a situation before executing a plan of action. Books also teach use about the past. Books can be looked at as timelines. They record everything that happens, and they preserve our history. As Thomas Carlyle once said, “All that mankind has done, thought, gained, or been--it is lying as if in magic preservation in the pages of books.”Books teach us a lot. In school we have books for every class. These text books teach us what we need to learn in school. There are books that we may read for self-learning. I read a lot of book on forensics. These books give me a head start on what I will be required to study in college. Without books, it would be hard to learn much of anything. Books open a whole new world of learning. They are always there and may always be reread. “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers,” as quoted by Charles W. Eliot. Eliot’s qoute expresses the impact of books and how we learn from them.
The Lives' of Others
In books we get a better understanding of others, and by understanding others we will better understand ourselves. I have read many books that have changed my outlook on life. I have met people who change their opinions based on a book. Last year I read a book by Greg Morganson called, Three Cups of Tea. Before reading this book, I had never known that children do not get education nearly as advanced as ours in third world countries. In his book, Morganson points out that students have to walk miles to get to school, and the schools that they attend are in poor condition. After reading Three Cups of Tea, I have become more involved in fundraising for the needy. “The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self activity,” said Thomas Carlyle.I have also met other people that this book has affected. A student in book club said, “I can’t believe that those children have to go to school outside. It makes me feel bad when I complain about our school.” Sold, by Patricia Mccormic, is another book that has affected me. This book is about a girl who was sold into slavery. Her parents believed that she would be going to work, but a slave buyer tricked them. She was not sent to work, but she was sent to a prostitution house. This book makes me realize that the world is full of evils. I would never have perceived these evils if I not read about them. Books like Three Cups of Tea and Sold, show us how much we have and how little others have. These books aren’t always easy to read but they teach us that we shouldn’t take things for granted.
Henry Ward Beecher once said, “A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” Books are the outlets in life. They allow us to pursue many different avenues. Books expand our experiences, our lives, and our knowledge. In a book, we can go anywhere. We can go to the most remote corners of the Earth and live there. In a book, we can be anyone. We can be part of that crowd at the Gettysburg Address, who listened in awe to Abraham Lincoln. In a book, we can learn anything. We can learn from past experiences of others. We even learn things that can disturb us. Books offer us unlimited possibilities. They represent more than what they appear “These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves,” as Gilbert Highet explains them. If I find that I don’t have money to go to Europe, which is most of the time, I pick a good book about a particular place in Europe. Books expand our imagination and creativity. They will forever spread knowledge through the land. John Berger once said, “When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own.”