Books have the power to change lives

Photo courtesy of Gloria Biggers

Photo courtesy of Gloria Biggers

Gloria Biggers, Staff Writer for The Vision Magazine

The story is from the fall issue of our sister publication, The Vision Magazine. To read more stories from that issue, click here.

A hum of chatter can be heard throughout the English hub of North Greenville, White Hall. The sound of professors and students alike discussing a plethora of topics with one commonality: literature.

One afternoon, I had decided to sit quietly on the vintage 70s couches of White Hall to attempt to study for my next class. One by one other fellow NGU students joined me in the seating area each holding a different book, some for class and others for leisure. Frustrated with the content I was trying to read, I threw a few plot questions out to the group that led to an hour-long conversation about one book. 

It is a known fact that a single book has the power to turn a society upside down. Also, the same fact can be true for the individual. A story can bring people together and create a sense of community due to like-minded thoughts. Oftentimes we forget that one defining literary moment in each of our daily lives.

Knee deep in challenging classes such as, Literary Theory, Junior English major, Laura Stephens said, “1984, the first book I read that made me realize that books are more than stories, they expose bad people and they teach you. Books give common ground. We all can have different interpretations but that brings us together.”

Pausing from her busy schedule, Courtney Maderia, a senior English education major and Mountain Laurel Poetry Editor, said, “The book, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath just changed the way I think about myself as a writer and how I read poetry,” she continues, “I think it is important to find an author that you can connect with. Oftentimes passionate conversations pop up in literary circles about different authors and works of literature. There is always something to discuss.”

Stories are not limited to people who shun tablets, greedily smell a new book, or feel giddy when walking into a public library. Throughout culture narratives have intertwined with everyday life. The story itself is not what carries the most impact; it is the individual who then shares with others who creates a tidal wave of innovation. In the quiet moments even a crumpled paperback found in the dollar bin can give an individual the ability to connect with others. Human nature compels us to share our thoughts, knowledge, experiences, and feelings. 

“The Book Thief changed my worldview,” said Derek Gahman, Junior English major, “I really like the idea that death is coming for everyone but you can rob death by living a worthwhile life,” continued Gahman, “A large aspect of my interactions with my friends is discussing stories.”

Julia Drummond, an English professor at NGU states, “As a young girl I always felt like a story could better communicate how I felt than the words that circulated through my head.”

There’s nothing better than finding another person who loves the same book series you do and a connection can be made.

“I have made literature my life, and therefore the community that I surround myself with has to do with books and like-minded individuals. I think there is a lot to be said for a person who reads,” added Drummond.

Books are a conduit for not only learning and exploration, but also a sense of camaraderie between individuals. Interdisciplinary Junior, Shaun Stokes, claims that his favorite book On the Road allows him, “To better interconnect with different types of people, by understanding eastern religions and gain a sense of understanding in order to successfully communicate the gospel.”

A story allows a person to take a deeper look at themselves and the world around them. Novels give you the opportunity to wear a different pair of lenses or walk in another man’s shoes.

As I hurriedly got up to leave for class, I paused to contemplate on the fact that literature has seeped into every aspect of my life. Even though I have to buy a backpack every new school year due to the sheer weight of the books I carry, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Books change lives.