The Best Thing You Can Do: Give Books Your Life

‘A room without books is like a body without a soul.’
– Marcus Tullius Cicero

Books can change your life.

And because of this, I believe we should give books our lives.

See, the brain acts much like a filter. It first observes everything in the world, but then begins the process of feeding the beholder of that brain with limited information. This information directly serves the person’s day-to-day priorities as it desperately acts on a kind of survival instinct. When concerned about the immediate down-to-earth tasks, the brain does little in its way to filter through patterns usually unseen.

A book, however, carries the power to enable a new priority to dictate what enters the mind and the self. The often beautifully crafted words lend the writer permission to provide the reader with a new perspective. Whether if it is a temporary shift or a harmonic, permanent one – a good book can give the reader the ability to change the frequency of it’s internal radio in order to receive new, yet already existing signals.

Books are, simply put, the greatest form of escapism. Whilst like other forms, they allow us to free ourselves of commonplace worldview; a book’s impact on the mind can profoundly alter the reality in which we continue to experience. Scottish whisky distiller, Thomas Dewar, famously spoke out that ‘minds are like parachutes; they only function when open’ and books encourage the parachute cord to be pulled.

Do note, however, that books do not do this by simply sitting proudly on a bookshelf of ego, speaking on behalf of the host at showy dinner parties. No. They require the reader to engage deeply. To hold hands with the writer and let their intentionally crafted pace guide the mind through complex and acroamatic ideas.

Nowadays, I frequently arrive toward the end of the month with a hilariously large number floating above the Amazon basket icon. There is not one single item on this large list that isn’t a book. My whole Amazon experience is now exclusive to acquiring great mind-altering writings. Fantasy novelist George R.R. Martin also reads ferociously and attributes this to his strong belief that ‘a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge.’

Books have the power to expand the worldview of the reader but are limitless in their ability to do so. They hold tremendous long-term merit as re-reading conducts notions the mind had not previously tempted. Deep personal experiences between reads nudge you to dance with the words you’ve previously danced with, but now, to a different song. Step intentionally, and you’ll find the new song liberating. It’s a complex yet freeing tango, infusing the past, rigid self with the new, more open one.

Books. Give them your life and they will reciprocate with more life. As Ernest Hemingway put it best, ‘there is no friend as loyal as a book.’

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