The Power of Books

I believe King Solomon had it right when he declared in Ecclesiastes 12:12, “Of the making of books there is no end.” One of my publishing friends said that verse should be carved in stone at the front of their publishing house. I’ll admit, it’s easy to get a bit skeptic and jaded about any new book. Because of the huge volume of material in print—new and backlist—you begin to wonder about the impact. And if you’ve forgotten that volume: 190,000 new books a year is the number that sticks in my mind from the 2005 Bowker press release.

You've-Got-to-Read-This-BooWith this preface,  my skepticism was overt when I saw this new book from Jack Canfield called You’ve Got To Read This Book! I saw it advertised on the Shelf-Awareness newsletter and wondered if it really delivered the promised benefit in the subtitle, “55 People Tell the Story of the Book That Changed Their Life.” During a recent visit to a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I picked up a copy of this book and flipped through it. It includes authors like Christiane Northrup, John Gray, Dave Barry, Debbie Macomber, Larry Jones and Stephen Covey.  I decided to get a copy and begin reading.  For anyone involved in publishing, this book is a solid shot of enthusiasm for our work. With each chapter, you clearly see the power of books to change lives.  Some of the people involved in this book have even created an online community in its infant stages called the Illumination Book Community. It’s something else for you to investigate.

I want to give you a few paragraphs from the introduction as a taste of what’s in this book. Each chapter contains a different voice and a different life-changing experience with a distinct book.  Some of the books are spiritual while others are not. It’s a broad mixture of titles which have changed lives. On page 17, “What is it that gives certain books the awesome power to change lives? Noted author Deepak Chopra once said that reading has a special transformational power because “it gives you the opportunity to pause and reflect.” Opportunity for reflection is a rarity in today’s world, dominated as it is by visual media such as television, which fires a constant stream of images at you point-blank. And even if you are nimble with the mute button, the silenced visual stream still requires continuous mental processing. This is not the case with books: When you hold a book in your hands, you’re in charge of the pace at which you read and the images you choose to form. You can stop and digest concepts and try on different perceptions and feelings.”

“But even that doesn’t guarantee transformation. As our friend Bernie Siegel writes in his story in this book, “To be honest, I really don’t believe any book can change your life—only you can. Look, two people read the same book: One is inspired while the other is bored. It’s the person—not the book—that creates transformation.” When time for reflection is combined with the willingness to be transformed by what you read, the possibility for real growth is created.”

This is why a book can have different effects if read at different points in one person’s life—and why two people can learn different things from reading the same book. In the following pages you will find stories that illustrate situations like these, as well as many other examples of that most powerful combinations of: books plus people open and willing to receive the ideas contained in them.”

I don’t know about you, but I love this type of book—because in each chapter, it affirms the transformational power of the printed page. Yes, that change will be different for each person but the reading experience should renew you to work harder at the craft of writing and book proposal creation.  At least that’s what reading this book has done for me.

One Response to “The Power of Books”

  1. Richard Mabry Says:

    I don’t know how you do it. You’re obviously on deadline for something (maybe more than one), yet you continue to post your blog on a daily basis, and with so many hyperlinks I get dizzy. Thanks for your efforts.
    I’d seen the ads for this book and was mildly interested. But after reading your blog, I followed the hyperlink to the Amazon site, read more about it, and decided–“Yeah, I’ve really got to read this book.”
    After all, I recently devoted a whole blog of my own to books that Christian writers and editors were reading. Why not broaden that and see what I can learn from the books that changed these folks’ lives?
    Again, thanks for taking the time to give us a peek into The Writing Life.

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