How a Book Changes a Life – by Ellery Bruns. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
Sometimes, when you pick up a book and stare at the cover, feel the weight of the crisp pages, you know in the way your ribs expand with deep, measured breaths that it will change you in unexplainable ways; only after an in-depth reading will you know why. At that moment, the temptation to put this book down and select a lighter book that does not make your shoulders tense, and, instead, pick a book that will make your life easier because it does not immediately connect another piece of your puzzle-like-soul with a terrifying ease is natural. This more comfortable choice means you are unchanged, unaffected, and, maybe, safer…supposedly. Without the book that clicks into your soul by exposing a weakness within you, you do not feel an uncomfortable steel barricade develop around you to protect against this book’s ability to rummage through your heart and evolve it. It may seem fine to avoid these powerful books, but to do so would be a grievous mistake; one that will make your capacity to learn about yourself and others unreachable. This error, even after all the hundreds of books I have read, visits me like an annual drought.
George Dilnot’s book Sister Satan has been annoying me for a few years now; it has had enough time to sew a jacket made of dust while it sits on my bookshelf. Frankly, I do not sure why I feel an unbreakable barricade defend against the powerful urge to read the browned pages. Perhaps it is my bodies flight or fight response to the title or its mysterious nature; the book’s description avoids any online search I have done and was conveniently left out of the book—thanks, Dilnot. My need to read this book has no tangible evidence that clarifies why I feel my shoulders tighten if I stare at the front cover. I only know that the tightness in my throat, lower back, and shoulders tell me my soul will be changed after I read this book, in a reverse psychological sense, but I avoid it because of those exact tensions; quite a mental curly-Q that does not seem to have a solution beyond reading the book. I do not know what I will gain out of Sister Satan, nor do I know why it bursts out of the storage shelves lining the back of my mind and prowls across my vision. I only know I need to read the thing, just do not know why yet (and, yes, I realize how nutty all of this may seem).
Nevertheless, I know how other books carve themselves to click into a vacant space in the evolving puzzle that is my mind, even if it is in a more trivial manner. One of the first books that radically changed the way I thought was Tithe by Holly Black. In sixth grade, I was slightly sheltered and slightly afraid of swear words. And, boy, there were a lot of swear words in that book. Today, I laugh at myself because if I thumb through the pages I can barely find one per page, so my aversion seems silly, but back then I was genuinely nervous around those four letter words. Somehow, a book about a swearing teenager who learns she is a fairy and then deals with all the chaos that ensues from that sparkling bit of knowledge helped me get over my childhood fear. This may sound strange, but I read Tithe because of a subconscious need to get over a fear that was holding me back, and once I read Sister Satan I will uncover the message I need find.
Maybe I am reaching, and creating explanations for coincidences, but I truly believe books are here to help you through life and reveal aspects of yourself that you could change to be a better version of yourself. It does not necessarily need to be profound; I think my fear of swear words demonstrates that pretty well. The change could be a simple thing that you recall thirty years from now or something that completely flips the perspective with which you view the world. Books that present themselves to you will grow up with you, and as you reread the pages, the messages that stand out will probably parallel things about which you unconsciously worry. Books are passageways to learn about yourself and the world through fictional or nonfictional stories and no matter how much the thought of reading a book unnerves you, do it any way.
Ellery Bruns serves as an assistant editor for The North Star Reports
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our guiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five years we have published over 300 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our volunteer student editors and writers come from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). We have an all volunteer staff. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang and NSR Student Editors and Writers. For a brief summary of our history, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Ellie Swanson and Marin Ekstrom, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu