Christmas Is Coming…
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
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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]
Happy Throwback Thursday!