Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Lifeblood

     "Books are useless."
     "Why study literature, we can't use it in the real world?"
     "I don't read"
     Each of these statements is like a shot to the heart. People always laugh when I say that but seriously guys, often, it is a physical pain in my heart. Because of books I have lived hundreds of lives and seen thousands of places. I have learned the meaning of bravery, compassion, love, and friendship. I have learned the consequences of poverty, war, and anger. I have learned that I am not alone and that every storm runs out of rain. I have learned you can't write fiction without fact. Books have taught me that you must stand up for what you believe in no matter the consequences for if you stand for nothing you fall for anything. Books have given me friends when I have none. For me books are home. C.S. Lewis once said "But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see."
      The power of books is undeniable and unmistakable if only you would open your eyes to see it. There is something beautiful in the smell and feel of a good book. There are books that are meant to keep you company through your loneliness and your trials. E.B. White once said "A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book you may have your questions answers. Books are good company, in sad times and happy time, for books are people - people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book" And  according to Steve Leveen "When you are reading a really great book, burdens feel lighter cares smaller"  
      Some people say that they don't like Realism because it is too close to real life. I came to the realization in Literature Class the other day (with the help of a scholarly paper which I can't remember) that while yes realistic literature is realistic and doesn't
provide an escape from the real world it brings about the romantic notion in all of us to do something. Anything. About the injustice and evil in the world. It drives us to action and makes us more compassionate and understanding. Sure it isn't always an 'escape' but sometimes we need reality in order to face what is going on in our lives and in the world. According to Ursula K LeGuin "We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become." All forms of literature provide us with 
this understanding. Sometimes it is obvious while other times you have to really search for it. I don't think people realize that those books that are 'escapes' have very real elements of reality scattered throughout them. For as Julian Barnes says "When you read a great book you don't escape from life, you plunge deeper into it."
     See books are like oxygen for me. I need them to breath. To cope. To live. I love this quote from Anne Lamott as she sums up many of my feelings perfectly. "For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you." Some might say I'm obsessed. Other's will think I'm crazy and to tell you the truth I probably am. 
A bookstore which was ruined by an air raid.
London 1940 Source
     I can't make anyone read. I can't make them understand but if books are so unimportant, so useless, why did Hitler burn them during WWII? Why is Uncle Tom's Cabin considered one of the main causes of the start of the Civil War? Martin Luther once said "If you want to change the world, pick up your
pen and write." 
   I don't know if that makes sense but books are such an important part of my life and it pains me to see how little our society appreciates book. I will leave you guys with one last quote from Po Bronson "Books have been my classroom and my confident. Books have widened my horizons. Books have comforted me in my hardest times. Books have changed my life"


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