A single book? No. How could it? But a lifetime of reading has changed me a lot.
- Because I read a lot of historical fiction, I’ve been given insight into history and the people—including minor characters–who populated it. Learning about their struggles, setbacks, failures, and successes has given me a deeper understanding of history. That understanding has also increased my sensitivity to the customs and constraints of certain eras and cultures that limit personal choices, especially for women and enslaved persons. I’ve also learned that the human spirit often finds ways to work around or combat those limitations. Reading memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies provides many of the same benefits. Because of reading those books, I believe I am kinder and more empathetic.
- Reading books has also allowed me to know I’m not alone and that someone else feels the same as I do. I am in good company.
- Sharing a wide range of books with my book club over the last twenty-five years has given me lifelong friendships. I am fortunate to enjoy such fine camaraderie.
- Reading picture books and poetry to my students over the years allowed me to regularly access my inner child and become a bit of a performer. I am delighted to continue this as a volunteer Reading Grandma.
- Reading books with my now middle-school granddaughter has given her some solid reading skills and something for us to talk about. I am thrilled.
- Reading a wide range of books has shown me that the world is complex. There are no simple answers to the world’s problems. I am motivated to read and learn more.
- Throughout my life, books have provided me with a plethora of life lessons that I didn’t have to experience personally. I could be an observer as characters in a book struggle with addiction, discrimination, abuse, poverty, death, illness, or disability. I have benefitted from those stories without having to go through them myself. This holds true whether the story is fact or fiction, by the way. This is one of the reasons I believe young people should be able to read freely and that librarians are heroes. I am grateful.
So no, a single book did not change my life, but the habit of reading and reading widely has. Change requires growth–slow, steady, continuous, intentional, lifelong growth. I hope to keep growing.