It’s impossible to quantify the power of books.  Books are comfort, knowledge, strength, humor, heartache, faith, experience, society, joy…and pretty much everything else you want to ascribe to them.

This TED talk by Lisa Bu which I found through Galleycat is a wonderful reminder of the power of books.  Take a look and think about the notion of comparative reading, but also about how books have gotten you through particularly challenging periods in your life.

Myself, I need books to help me interpret grief and come to terms with it.  I also need books to help me understand confusing events, whether personal or global.  (And I understand Lisa Bu’s comparative reading as perhaps only those of us with feet in two cultures can.)  Most of all, though, I just need books.

How about you?  What kind of comparative reading do you do?  And, what books do you turn to when things are topsy turvy in your life?

4 Responses to Bookscapes

  1. RamseyH says:

    I go to books whenever I encounter a parenting issue. At first it was books for me – Raising Your Spirited Child, for example. Now I go to children’s books whenever I’m trying to correct a behavioral issue or impress something important on my kid. When he was two, he started hitting – so I got him a book called “No Hitting!” He got the message. Recently he’s been developing some super perfectionist tendencies with his artwork, so much so that he’ll refuse to do anything at all, so I got him a book called “Beautiful Oops,” about how a mistake can be an opportunity to create something beautiful.

    Even though he’s only 3, I find books are the best, most direct way to communicate complex ideas to my child.

  2. Joelle says:

    I don’t know that I’ve used books that way, at least not until my BF died unexpectedly. Surprisingly, it was a book about a girl whose sister has died the same way, which I’d already read and loved and thought I’d never be able to face again, that helped me through it. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson.

  3. D.C. DaCosta says:

    I’ve never had any luck in finding a self-help (or similar) book that described experiences that were remotely like mine. (Was involved in Al-Anon once upon a time, lost my spouse at a relatively young age, and raised five kids on my own.)

    No matter what the topic, I’ve always felt that I was experiencing it from 90 to 180 degrees off from everyone else. Consequently, books have had a certain degree of interest for me…but hardly any practical value.

  4. Katie says:

    When things are against me, I read the Psalms. Pretty much every expression of human emotion is covered…

    Besides the Bible, I’ve read parts of various religious books. However, after an embarrassing encounter with my Jewish neighbor, I decided I didn’t know nearly enough and I committed to studying Judaism more extensively. This decision came after telling my sweet neighbor, “We’re basically the same, we read the same book.” I’d traveled to Israel, studied the Old Testament, even have a print of Jerusalem in my dining room to represent the Holocaust survivors, but didn’t know the Torah wasn’t simply the Bible minus Jesus. I was ignorant and she was kind. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal about the Torah, the difference between Hasidic, coservative and liberal Jews. The comparative studies have improved my relationships and have strengthened my own beliefs. Win-Win!

    I love to learn about people, so I’m always comparing and contrasting people’s histories and their personalities, outcomes, etc… From biographies of famous people to memoirs by unknowns, everyone has a story and I want to read it.

    Because of my strong propensity for learning, I enjoy philisophical fiction books where the author knows their characters well and goes deep into not just the way they look or what they want, but who they are, what they believe about their world and how they fit into it. That’s why I enjoyed Mary Coin and Anna Karinina.

    When I need joy, I go back to Jane Austin’s no-nonsense wit. She tells it like it is and I smile everytime.

    And sometimes I want to be swept away into a Sparks novel, though I’ve been gravitating away from his style as of late.

    Besides that, on occasion I read in depth magazine articles on politics and world affairs. I’ll typically seek out opposing viewpoints to understand what’s going on better, though I don’t have time to do this as much now with little ones running around.

    In summary, I love to read and write and LEARN and reading comparatively and writing extensively are the best ways I’ve found to do this!

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