Home » The Continual Power of Books

What would the world be like without books? It’s like one of those other brain-hurting questions, like who created the universe, and what was here before something was here…Can you even visualize it?

How many times a day do we pull upon past knowledge, visuals & stories from the books we’ve read in our lives? As we make our way through difficult situations, challenging times and light and funny moments, what we’ve experienced through the reading of books informs our current experiences. The content of books permeates how we view occurrences in the world around us. When you hear about government intervention, how many of us quickly, perhaps without even realizing it, reference George Orwell’s “1984?” When discussing Reaganomics, who finds themself thinking of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451?” Does a walk through New York’s boroughs make you think of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?” If you’ve experienced a divorce, have you referenced the relationship-clarifying fiction shorts of Alice Munro?

Our experiences make us who we are. And, with books such an integral part of our every day, it is only fitting and obvious that the books we read, the stories we connect with, the authors we gravitate to—have a huge and indelible impact upon us.

Because of books’ power to inform and perhaps even mold us, there have been many attempts in many cultures throughout history to control the words we put into our minds. Book censorship is not only something of the past: in the U.S., there are active censorship groups such as PABBIS (Parents against Bad Books in Schools). In some countries access to books is limited or non-existent for certain segments of the population–namely, women.

It is clear that books are such a presence and influence in our lives that they wield—for better and perhaps even worse–enormous power.

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