Books: Food For The Imagination

Christmas Is  Coming…

“You gave her what for Christmas?” His shock was palpable but surprising to me. Why would anyone be shocked that my gift to my daughter was a book. That was it. Nothing else.

Money was always tight in my household, ever since my childhood. In my 30’s into 40’s the cash flow fluctuated from drought-like conditions to a steady flowing river but never a cascading waterfall. That particular Christmas, the stream of money was not so bad but my decision about a gift was not made with any consideration to funds. Rather, it was to teach my daughter, reinforce a lesson that was always being taught in our household, that reading and books were far more valuable that any television programme or fancy gadgets we could give.

Books And The Imagination

Book lovers restaurant – the library

Traditionally, Book Lovers’ Day is marked in August but a few places and websites will observe the day on November 7, 2015. This is one day that, as the saying goes, “it is so nice we have to play it twice” is very appropriate as what could be “more nice” than losing oneself in a good book?

My childhood years were not the most happy and ironically, due to that many hours were spent locked in my room reading. Back in the day, we had a Library van that would come to the neighbourhood at least one Saturday each month. It was the best Saturday of every month for me as it meant I could take off to a distant land, a fantasy world, through the pages of the books of the month. I am not sure if this service is still available across Jamaica – it would be a pity if it was not as my first understanding of imagination and how to use it came through my Saturday books.

There is some dispute whether many of the quotes attributed to Albert Einstein were really his words but whoever said this about imagination must have been a book lover as I became:

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Teach A Child To Read Books…

Books – the windows to the world

My friend’s shock about my Christmas gift to my daughter was understandable as he was never taught how to use his imagination through a book. No one out-rightly taught me either but through the Library Service of Jamaica we met and engaged in many of delicious hours of adventure. Nancy Drew books were my favourites in the early days and through them, my sense and appreciation for mystery and problem-solving were engaged. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were next in line.

Later, particularly during my first few years in high school, literature became my escape route. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” was the book that introduced me to social justice issues. Then there were the classics written by Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dostoevsky, to name of few of the authors of books that would later shape my thinking about race, class, love and justice.

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Whether November 7 is actually Book Lovers’ Day, I asked two of our Contributors to share two books they consider as life-shaping for them. With difficulty, as selecting one book or even two as life-impacting is hard for anyone, here is what Alexis Ali and Neelma Tashfeen shared.

Our Two Favourite Books


Contributor, Claudette P. Esterine
Alexis Ali

As for the books, it is so hard to choose just two. So the first one I will say is my favorite book from my childhood “Ella Enchanted.” Though it was a book meant for children, I found myself enamored with the writing style. I loved the fact that I could open the book and fall into a beautifully crafted new world. I loved that the words created mental images. I wanted to be able to create something like that through words.

The second book is called “This Present Darkness” by Frank Perretti. I would describe it as a kind of Christian horror fiction which alone got my attention. But as I read it, I felt emotions from the story. I lived the fears of the characters and grieved with them. I struggled along side them. Again, this idea that I could pull readers into my stories to such an extent was something I longed for and knew was necessary.


The books that perhaps changed the way I view my life are “The Quran” and Qatra Qatra Qulzam.”  The latter is by a Sufi Saint Pakistani writer Wasif Ali Wasif.

Neelma Tashfeen

My reasons for liking the Quran has nothing to do with religious sentiment. It was out of curiosity that I read it (not being a religious person) and not a religious obligation. I found so many conceptual clarifications about social conduct related to kindness and good deed that I find myself a better human being without being a religious person frankly.

The other book is a collection of thoughts by a philosopher on almost everything in life from truth, death, misery, happiness and just about anything you can imagine. It gave me a conceptual clarity that makes me who I am today.  It also means a collection of drops making an ocean – a title chosen by the author to depict his thoughts to paint a wholesome picture.


Being an avid read like these two women, I too would be hard-pressed to narrow my choice to two books – so here are three. Like Neelma – more out of curiosity than religious beliefs, at least in my adult years, The Bible was life-changing for me, especially as I started to re-read it as a book of experiences, history and ‘lessons learned’ by others. There are chapters that I appreciate and find far more meaningful than others. Then, there are some that I simply and honestly cannot read without anger arising in me. However, even in the middle of that emotion, I come to realise that the words are expressions of a thought-process of people gone by and so going beyond them will take me to the lesson. That is what I do when I read The Bible – go beyond the words for the essence of the experience.

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Claudette and her books
Claudette and her books

The other book that would top my list is one that I mentioned in a recent radio interview“Born Of A Woman,” by John Shelby Spong. This is the most important book in my journey along the road of faith and reason. It helped me to understand sexuality, my own, and launched my healing from sexism in the church and the world. I owe a debt of gratitude to the author, the first and only “preacher man” who I have ever loved.

When it comes to self-confidence, minding my business and letting go, “What You Think Of Me Is None of My Business,” was my primer. Written by Terry Cole-Whittaker, this no nonsense, motivational book that includes worksheets and affirmations helped me to move away from co-dependency and other similar dysfunctions. Yes, it would take years after my first reading of this book for me to “get it,” and there is still at least one area in my life that the hooks remain. This book, however, is a must read for anyone who is challenged by these issues. You can actually download it here.

What Are Your Favourite Books?

Now over to you. What are two of your favourite books? Take part in this poll and share with us your reading habits. As well, do leave a comment with the titles of two or even one life-changing book. Help another reader to find something that might support them along the way.

What Kind Of Reader Are You?

View Results

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It does not matter whether November or August is Book Lovers’ Month, just start reading and share the joy of a book with a child today! As well, if you like our posts, do consider subscribing and being a part of this community. I also have my E-Book as a free gift to you and your friends. Download it here and tell others about it. [tweetthis]Here is a great e-book that will help you start 2016 right! Check it out on this blog![/tweetthis]

Thanks for visiting again and do watch my Tuesday Thought video on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for posts throughout the day!

Happy Throwback Thursday!

Claudette P. Esterine









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50 thoughts on “Books: Food For The Imagination

  1. I love reading also. I love all Francine Rivers books. Currently my daughter and I are reading the River of Time series. Phenomenal. 🙂

    1. Ms Claudette

      Sweet! my daughter used to do that when we lived in the same house. Later, I would buy two copies of any book that I was about to read and gift her one. Crazy way to bond with your girl! 🙂

  2. I always gifted my kids with books when they were young. It’s very important that we encourage them to read.

    1. Ms Claudette

      It most certainly is! Had my granddaughter over yesterday and it just pleased me so much to see her get excited to open her book that her Mom sent with her. 🙂

  3. There is no way I could pick just two books out of the literally 1000’s I’ve read over the years. All or at least most of them affected me one way or another.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I understand you dilemma but it would still be nice to hear two of your favourites. 🙂

  4. I am sorry to hear about your difficult upbringing but am glad that you found comfort in readin. I too loved reading to escape reality and I am sure many others have found it as comforting as we have.

    1. Ms Claudette

      I think we would find that most people who had a challenging childhood escaped them through books. You and I are kindred spirits in many ways Ana! 🙂

  5. Me and my husband love reading but difference is he loves to read online and I love books… I have long list of books to finish..

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am getting into the online reading – somewhat. Still very much love the feel of a book in my hand! Have a great week and getting through your list! 🙂

  6. I love this post Claudette! Although the floor under our Christmas tree was always covered with gifts, it would have been a sad Christmas for me if I had not recieved at least one new book! My children grew up with the same love of reading – and we all barely have enough bookshelves for our books.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes! I absolutely love hearing/reading that! I don’t feel so weird anymore! 🙂

  7. CourtneyLynne

    My daughter is book obsessed!!!! I’m hoping this stays an obsession!

    1. Ms Claudette

      All my fingers are crossed with you on that! 🙂

  8. Reading is so important. My youngest participates in a jr read probram. She reads with a youngnger child – its fantastic

    1. Ms Claudette

      That it is indeed! She is helping herself and others – what could be better? 🙂

  9. Right now I’m just reading a lot of books with my son. They help with his speech and he loves doing voices with me.

    1. Ms Claudette

      That’s exciting! My granddaughter is a mimic as well! Enjoy! 🙂

    1. Ms Claudette

      That is awesome! 🙂

  10. Yes, yes and yes! Gift giving to my nieces and nephews has moved away from toys and more toys to items to stimulate the mind or get them outdoors. With video games and TV, it’s hard to get them to do anything but, but I find a way 😉

  11. […] and books were the conversation yesterday and it was interesting to read your comments and sharing about the books you love. Lying in bed […]

  12. dltolley

    Spent my life reading! Nothing makes me happier than seeing my children, and now my grandchildren, with a book in their hands. If you’re looking for books as Christmas gifts, I have a few suggestions . . . 😉

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am going to be reading your your gift to me this weekend and doing the review!!! That’s a promise but yes, it would be awesome to have you share with us a Christmas book/gift list! Do I hear link up? 🙂

  13. I do not take the time to sit and read anymore. I really should.The book sounds great.

    1. Ms Claudette

      We all are a bit guilty of that – I am with this blog and everything else. 🙁 However, like you, I will carve out some time over the Winter. Thanks for your visit and comment! 🙂

  14. I wish I had more time for reading. I could really get lost in a great Christmas novel right now 🙂

    1. Ms Claudette

      I have a Christmas novel that I must get to shortly – thanks for the reminder! That is exactly what we do with books, no? Get lost in them. 🙂

  15. My kids really love reading books. Its their hobby and I’m really happy that they enjoy reading books,

    1. Ms Claudette

      It is really heartening to see them read! No matter how much technology we have, I love seeing my granddaughter with a book! 🙂

  16. My favorite books are Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and James and the Giant Peach. Quite opposite from each other, huh?

    1. Ms Claudette

      Indeed! But guess it? They are the ones that made an impression on you! Thanks for sharing them! 🙂

  17. victoria

    My niece and nephew every week they go to the library they love books and they collect books series

    1. Ms Claudette

      That’s amazing! I am so glad we did this as for a moment I thought so many children stopped going to the library like we did! 🙂

  18. danavento

    Books and reading are so important, it is a fundamental and I love this presentation and post. So wonderful.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Thank you and yes, books are really important! 🙂

  19. I love reading, always have, always will. One of the books that I love that really opened my eyes to new perspectives was The Perks of Being a Wallflower which I read after seeing the movie. The second would be The Fault in Our Stars. I reread both of them monthly and I absolutely love them and they mean a lot me.

    1. Ms Claudette

      You do? That is very interesting….I must check for those books!

  20. I love to read and would be happy to have someone give me a book that they picked out for me. Lots of family and friends who know me do this for all kinds of gifts! If you know me well enough to choose a book for me I’m happy. It’s about connections not just “stuff”

    1. Ms Claudette

      I am going to get to know you and then pick out a book for you! I love giving books as gifts as books have gifted me so much!

  21. We go to the library every two week and check out around 50 books for my three boys. They love to read!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes! I love hearing/reading that! 🙂

  22. My boys love books. They have a great collection due to the gifts from grandma.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Sweet! That what grandmother’s are for! 🙂

  23. Elizabeth O.

    I think it would be nice to encourage kids to read, or to love reading. I helps develop their imagination and it helps with their vocabulary!

    1. Ms Claudette

      It most certainly does! 🙂

  24. You got my support . It’s so important to read although I do not have the time my favorite books are audio.

    1. Ms Claudette

      Yes, our busy world today makes it hard to find the time to sit and read. Audio books are therefore great. However, what I am finding, as a manager of younger people, the language is being lost, they do not have the same ability to write with ease or eloquence. I am surprised at the the simple words they do not know the meaning of, well simple to me. It is sad as we will soon be speaking in acronyms and hashtags. I am all for technology, social media and all that but does it have to be at the price of intelligence?

  25. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    I hate reading with a PASSION, but my boys both love it and that makes me happy!

    1. Ms Claudette

      Fair enough and I really do appreciate your honesty in declaring that! Not everything is for everyone. 🙂

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