Carry a book wherever you go

My daughter, Batel, sent me this special piece that was published in an Israeli internet site that serves as a critique stage on cultural issues.

A young girl graduated from an Israeli high-school with top grades. To the graduation ceremony she invited two librarian women from the public library where she used to prepare her homework and borrow reading books. To the invitation she attached a personal letter, handwritten:

“I never told you how important reading is for me and how much books are a complete different world for me. When we arrived at our town we were the first Ethiopian family in the neighborhood and nobody really cared for me or loved me. I was strange and dark so I had to look for another world, where somebody would want me.

And you gave me the chance to enter a magical world, the world of books. Books were the world I escaped to when guys called at me “go climb on trees, Nigger!”  This new world allowed my imagination to flourish, to show me that it wants and loves me. It was a world I could open a door into, walk in and grasp life, even at times when I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

I never told you how wonderful reading was for me and how much knowledge and power I had gained from it. My language was dramatically improved up to a point that people assume now that I was born here.  It gave me the power to create a world for myself; magical and challenging as the stories that I’ve read. For a long while the books were my friends. Sometimes I was letting myself fall asleep only at 6:00 in the morning because I was reading throughout the nights. I reached sensitive spots. I was crying, I fell in love, I laughed, I was scared, I was moved…

And I’ve never thanked you. For giving me the opportunity to get to know this magical world, without which I wouldn’t have become who I am today. Thank you for giving me those eleven years of reading, the privilege to choose reading, to expose myself within the pages of the books…not only to myself, but also to my siblings and my whole family – thank you with all my heart.

As a sign of appreciation it is my honor to invite you to my graduation ceremony, because you have a part in it. You are part of it from the first day, on which a tiny, curly girl came to the library asking to borrow a book, only one single book…

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I love you much, K.”

(Published in the Israeli internet site “The Left Bank” by Joseph Algazi, May 2007)

 It is not a secret that I’m attached to reading myself, with all my senses. The story above is touching but it is important to mention that the importance of reading doesn’t lie mainly in escapism. Many experts bring up the enrichment in reading. Many emphasize the importance of reading once in a while some biographies of famous people, as it enriches and deepens the thinking and can also serve as role models. Robin S. Sharma in his book “Who will cry when you die?” quotes from “US News and World Report” that during our lives we are intended to spend 2 years in unsuccessful attempts to return phone calls, and five years (!!) in standing in lines. Assuming this is correct, says Sharma, don’t go anywhere without a book under your arm. While people are busy complaining, he adds, you will be busy reading, learning and growing. According to Sharma, the people we are going to become in the next 5 years, is the outcome of 2 main factors: the people with whom we spend our time and the books that we read. I fully agree with it.

And so, I have a room in my heart and much appreciation for people I see at the dentist’s waiting room or at airports that are concentrated on their books. They give me the feeling that they are independent, that their world is wider, that they are eager to learn and absorb….

So yes, carry a book with you wherever you go.

Fireworks (30)
Shuka, Thursday, May 28, 2009  

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