Books change lives. That's why I became an author, book reviewer, and publisher. Before all that I was a reader, a voracious reader. Books have defined my life, and even today books continue to define me. Our experiences mold who we are and books are ultimately chosen experiences. You could say the same about movies, TV shows, or music and art, but literature draws us in more than any of those experiences, sometimes even more than real life!
Books require us to be engaged and involved, not content as a passive observer. Authors pour their souls into their work, but readers bring that passion to life. In a very special way readers and authors are partners in literature and every reader experiences a work of literature differently, thus creating an intimate and individual perspective that in turn touches each of us in unique ways. And so we are sculpted by the authors we read and what we personally bring to their work.
The Reader for Life program uses the power of literature to touch lives turned upside down by illness.
Life is change. At any great crossroad in our lives we make choices and therefore have the potential to alter direction and change from who we were before into who we are becoming. Those moments can be a joyous event such as a graduation or marriage or they can be tragic. But it is what we make of those experiences that defines who we are becoming.
Literature inspires us at those times, offering us ideas and options we may not have contemplated before—experiences we may never have otherwise.
But it is not that authors are all-wise and intentionally inspirational, it is what the reader adds to the story that changes them. In his book Illusions, Richard Bach's reluctant messiah says, “The wise man can learn the secrets of the universe from a gum wrapper.” It is what we pour of ourselves into literature that touches us most deeply.
When cancer strikes, lives are ripped from their moors. Everything changes.
It can seem as if our bodies have turned against us and the simplest of tasks become insurmountable obstacles. Our mortality is shoved into our consciousness, too often at a very young age. Few of us have the life experiences we need to process what is happening. Cancer is the ultimate game changer. But again, life is change. And each obstacle is potential for growth.
Literacy is the key to unlocking our potential no matter what life throws at us.
Reading—light fiction or dense scholarly studies—provides us with new ways of thinking, reacting, and growing in the face of difficult circumstances. And literacy isn't limited to being a reader. Writing—pouring who we are onto the blank page—can open up ideas and ways of thinking that hide deep within us. And sharing our thoughts and perceptions with others through reading groups and writing circles expand those possibilities for growth even further.
That's why #Reader4Life is important.
The Underground Press is providing possibilities to cancer patients by offering free books, writing resources, and organizing reading groups. At a time when life is upside down a book can be an anchor when we need stability or a ladder to new heights. At a time when life is upside down a journal can be a way to organize the thoughts and feelings we are unable to express even to ourselves.
I am proud to be a part of that work.