mufaros beautiful daughters

Pages from Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

For me, one of the greatest feelings in the world is opening a new book, throwing myself into this new world, and feeling so connected to characters that I have to remind myself even weeks later that they are not real people.  Entertainment such as television and social media may have a similar effect, but a novel commands you to draw your own sketches of people, places and even smells. It gives your mind time to unravel a story at its own pace and leaves an impact on every sense. Yes, words have power.

So you can imagine my dismay when I read that a recent Pew research study revealed nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year.  The study claims that the number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978. Whether you attribute these numbers to the proliferation of information on the Internet, social media or gadgets, one thing is certain: we must reclaim and celebrate the power of the book. I take most studies with a grain of salt, namely because of their exclusionary structures and the margin of error can be so wide. But, if these numbers do in fact represent the decline of the bookworm, I’m ready to start a national campaign to bring them back-- as in, Reading Rainbow, “reading is fundamental” back, with posters of books coming to every street corner in America.

Bibliophiles, gather one, gather all. Remember the thrill of reading a Dr. Seuss book or Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters as a child, of Janie under a blossoming pear tree in Their Eyes Were Watching God, or James Baldwin’s portraits of Harlem that were so poignant, you could feel the smell of the city’s streets seeping from the page.

Because of books, I understood freedom outside of the confines of my own mind and even classroom.

Yes, words have power.

Once a month, my friends and I get together to discuss a new novel. The passion and banter we exude as we pour over highlighted pages, quoting passages that made our hearts pound and our heads spin, proves that these statistics can’t be completely correct. But, it also proves that those of who do have a passion to read, whether a student or aspiring writer, must share that passion with others. I still like to get lost in libraries and prefer a paper cut from turning a page to an e-reader. Call me old fashioned, but one thing that will never get old, is a book. And the day it does, our society will have truly missed out on one of the greatest things we can give to each other for free: our stories.

Do you read books? Be honest! When was the last book you read? How often do you read a new book? Let us know in the comments!