In case of emergency…open book.

“You’re also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it’s this: The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.” – Neil Gaiman’s lecture to The Reading Agency 10/14/2013

When I was a child, maybe ten or twelve, my mother worried that I read too much, and that the books I read were somehow damaging my sense of reality. I told her I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world. I wanted exciting things to happen. And they did, every day, in the pages of my books.  I would argue that it is impossible to read too much but she was probably right about my sense of reality.

Real life simply isn’t good enough. I want to change it. I want to make it better.

Those stories gave me permission to dream. They taught me how to imagine and how to hope. And they also taught me how to face the world, how to empathize with others. I learned that I could face terrible challenges and come out stronger on the other side. 

Books made my world richer, deeper, broader. I believe (really and truly and to the depths of my soul) that they made me a better person.

You too can become a better person. You can escape from whatever troubling, bewildering, or painful situation you find yourself in. You can learn to change the world.

All you have to do is pick up a book–and open it.


2 thoughts on “In case of emergency…open book.

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  1. I’m almost sure I became who I am because of reading books as a child. One of my favourites series ever is by Alfred Szklarski, a Polish writer who wrote about a boy – Tomek Wilmowski – going out for adventures in Asian, African, South American countries and in Australia. I don’t think as a child, with no internet around, I could have developed a love for “exotic” cultures any other way. Years later, I majored in cross-cultural relations with Asian and African cultures. 🙂 Books made my world broader too. I hope they’ll continue to change the world and people for ever.

  2. One of my favorite things growing up was to lose myself in a good book. I’d become rooted to one spot for hours, my nose deep in some adventure or compelling tale, no concept of time or anything I was “supposed” to be doing. I must confess I often used the closed door of the bathroom to escape into a book instead of cleaning my room or some such business. Mom totally knew what I was up to, though, as she’d walk by, knock on the door and say, “Are you reading in there?” My reply came slowly, “N-nooooo…”

    Books still change my life and my world. Amen for it, too!

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