I was watching The Daily Show the other night and Jon Stewart made a reference to the book Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes. He immediately told his audience to “Yea, read a f**king book.” It was obvious that many had never heard of the book or even seen the movie, Charley. I have, which made me feel strangely superior. Kind of like when you know the final Jeopardy answer and all the contestants get it wrong.
It’s always seems odd to me that books that have made a real impression on my life could have been missed by so many. I know it’s an important book for me when I retain so much of it. The story affects me in a personal way, has stayed with me for years and I feel for the characters. They are unforgettable. There are several books that do that for me including The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. They all made me think and question. Some scared the heck out of me with their realism.
Of course, this is probably why I moved on to mostly romance. I don’t want to be scared anymore. I love my happily ever afters. It’s nice to be comfortable. I like knowing all will end well and I can have a few moments in my fantasy world.
Does this mean I regret my reading past or I will never read a book that makes me examine uncomfortable subjects? No. I gained a lot of insight into the world and want to keep informed and up to date. Talking to people on a variety of subjects interests me and if I wasn’t well versed in it, I might as well lock myself up and just watch some of the crap that passes itself off as reality tv (Jersey Shore, Real Housewives, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo).
Reading a variety of books, discussing and sharing them with others including our kids brings about understanding and can lead to other topics that may never have been breached before. I wish I could reach out and touch everyone with the gift to love books. It shouldn’t be considered a burden to read, but a joy. Something we can share with one another, no matter the genre of the book.
The scariest book I ever read was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It still scares me today. All those burning books make me shudder. I try to do my part by talking about books where ever I go. I pass them out, I share my love for them, I give them as gifts. It may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but it feels right.
What about you? Any books made a profound impression on you? Any you wish you could get others excited about? Any that made you realize that reading was as necessary as breathing for you?
Bottom Line: “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life.’” ~ Helen Exley