Borrow Books, Keep the Change

nickolouse13 via flicker

What book changed your life? Can you really narrow it down to just one? If I had to tell you all the books that changed my life, it would fill a book. Believe it or not, it probably started with the first-grade readers where I could “see Spot run.” They’re the ones that taught me I could read – that there were other worlds to discover inside ordinary looking covers.

Families Around the World was the start of a journey where I found I could learn a great deal about diverse cultures just by going to the library or a book store or some forgotten box at the far end of a yard sale. I discovered there were people very similar to me who lived in different places and had occupations and customs that weren’t always the same as those of my friends and family. This book played a huge part in showing me there was more than one right way to do things and that I had choices about how I did things, too.

I am fortunate to carry this powerful lesson with me today.

Also on my life-changing book list is Jennifer,Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg, which taught me I could read and walk at the same time. Later in the book, I learned you actually had to cast a spell to pull off that trick really well and although I was a natural at spelling, I never really got the hang of casting which probably explains why I rarely caught fish, either, but that’s another story. (Not The Old Man and the Sea, although that’s a good one, too.) These days I have my walking time and my reading time. I still do a lot of both but I do both separately.

With Harriet the Spy, I learned I could walk around with a notebook, discover a lot, and keep track of it.

Even today, I notice that walking around with my notebook makes me more observant and a better listener. I am still amazed by what I can learn by staying quiet and listening to what other people have to say. For some reason, I do this better when I sit with my notebook open.

Childhood’s End opened my eyes to an entire genre in my twelfth-grade science-fiction class. That was just the beginning of a lifelong adventure of finding hidden treasures and alternate universes with fantastic and unique narratives that, in all their bizarreness, still managed to mirror reality with powerful and revealing analogies.

Every time I open a book I learn something new and each book I read changes me in some small, and sometimes huge, way.

That’s why I was excited to find out this year’s theme for National Library Week is “Lives change @ your library,” which is April 13-19.

Langsdale Library will be celebrating by displaying books that changed the lives of UB students, faculty and staff. Come in and take a look at these books – maybe you’ll want to read them too. They’ll be highlighted in Langsdale’s display case, which you can see as soon as you enter the library.

Langsdale is also hosting a Library Basement Reading on April 17, from 8-9 p.m., with seven readers. Ron Williams, columnist for The UB Post, will be emceeing the event, which is free and open to the public.

Afterwards, you’re welcome to walk around the library and look for a book. Maybe the one you find will change your life as well.

As published in The UB Post, April, 2014.

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