Ever since I could read, my life and worldview have been molded by books.
In first grade, I read my dad’s entire collection of The Happy Hollisters.
When I was 10, I’d count down the days each month for Goosebumps release day.
The routine was always the same. I’d read half of each book that very night, and then finish the book, curled up in a ball under an afghan on the couch, the following morning.
A few years later, I was in my school library and stumbled across a weird sounding book with an armored badger on the cover. It was titled Salamandastron, and I couldn’t help but start reading it right there.
I devoured all 400 pages in a week.
Soon I had read every book Brian Jacques’s Redwall series and eagerly awaited each new release. These children’s book taught me about adventure, bravery, justice, honor, courage, heartbreak, death, legacy, and integrity.
Think “Game-of-Thrones lite,” with animals. They are full of unbelievable highs (shoutout Martin the Warrior) and heart-breaking lows (damn you, Tsarmina).
I’ve learned more from books than anything – or anyone – else.
Whenever I’m struggling with an existential crises (what I like to call “Tuesday”), wisdom and guidance are often only a page away.
Long story short: books rule.
I’ve been revisiting my favorite books lately, and after rereading Lois Lowry’s The Giver, I read the postscript with her acceptance speech for the 1994 Newberry Medal.
Lowry’s closing remarks are fantastic:
“Let me say something to those of you here who do such dangerous work.
The man that I named The Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth.
Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing.
It is very risky.
But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom.
Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things.”
Lowry’s work (and this speech from 1994) is still relevant today. Just recently, a neighboring county in Tennessee voted to not ban a specific list of “controversial” books, an unexpected win for books here in the south.
Here’s to authors writing books that get us to think a bit differently about the life in which we live.
Especially if they’re “wonderfully, unsafe things.”