My reality is restricted, my finances are limited, my feet are trapped by gravity, and my mortality is real. Yet I have lived the lives of a hundred wonderful people.
I have flown on dragons and conquered cities with Daenerys Targaryen, mourned the loss of my soulmate with Chris Harte, travelled to far and distant lands with Bilbo Baggins, feared living in an orphanage with Vaselinetjie, and hid in bomb shelters during the Second World War with Mr Tom.
Charles William Eliot said, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Anyone who has ever read a good book will understand this statement. Fiction and fantasy books remove you from your reality – however difficult or depressing – and transport you to a magical new reality that envelopes your imagination and heart long after you have turned the last page.
Non-fiction and history books educate you and often challenge your opinions and beliefs, penetrating your thoughts and reality for weeks after you’ve absorbed the last fact.
Children’s books take you back to the most uncomplicated of days where you believed in friendly giants and talking spiders.
Whichever genre you prefer, there is joy and safety to be found in a book. As a quiet, withdrawn child, I was often alone over weekends and holidays, yet I was never lonely. I had mountains of books, countless stories to absorb, endless roads to travel, and interesting new characters to discover.
In celebration of World Book Day, some of my colleagues at Oxbridge Academy share how books have changed their lives:
Annika says that the book that changed her life is Little King December. It tells the story of a small king who lived in a small house and reigned from a small throne – and who turned out to be one of the most influential and powerful kings of the time. As a child, Annika lacked confidence because she was smaller than her peers, and she says that this book taught her that “anyone can be influential and important, despite how big or small they are.”
Jenny says that she has many favourite books and authors, and she highlights Maya Angelou’s memoirs – starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – as a must-read for everyone. According to Jenny, Maya Angelou’s writing reflects the author’s joy of life, her no-nonsense attitude, and her fierce belief in standing up for herself despite hardships.
One of Jenny’s favourite quotes by Maya Angelou is: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Denise says that for her, Unity or Division? by Dr J Lapoorta was a profound and interesting read, and that she read it twice. The book focuses on the unity struggle in the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of South Africa. Denise says that after reading the book, she had to undergo a total mind change about the AFM, and that the book equipped her to lead in her role as a spiritual leader in her community.
One of the books that changed my own life is The Pact by Jodi Picoult. The Pact is a novel that tells the story of two teenagers, Emily and Chris, with a tragic twist. The story deals with teenage depression, co-dependent love, parental expectations, hidden pain, and personality differences – and why all of this became too much for Emily to handle. The lessons I learned from Emily’s character is that I do not always have to comply with the expectations of those around me; that I do not need to mould myself to the perceptions of others; and that I have to make decisions for myself, or risk losing myself in the lives of others.
How have books impacted your life? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!