A Good Book is an Endless Source of Influence on Human Beings

—Ambika Ananth

A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.
—George R R Martin

It is often said, “Of all things, by far, the most momentous and wonderful and worthy are the ones we call ‘books’!” When you open a book, it opens your mind, touches your heart and soothes your soul. In fact, books are the greatest sources of knowledge that we have..

I remember the story of a man who was an alcoholic. He was abandoned by his family. One day while walking aimlessly on the street, he saw a hand gun for sale in a shop and was tempted to buy that with the last few dollars he had in his pocket, go home and end his life. Thus, say good bye to all his troubles and disappointments. But he resisted the strong temptation, walked away, luckily to enter a library which was right ahead. With that one act, his life was straightened forever.

With books all around on success and motivation, he picked one up and started reading. He got totally hooked, continued his reading and found answers to many of his problems. His mind became clear and he turned proactive and positive. He gave up his old habits to become a successful writer and publisher himself. Ah, the dear friends called books came to his rescue in times of great need!

“Writing … has been a sturdy ladder out of a deep pit” said Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize winning American author. When authors write such powerful stuff with conviction, readers rise from the worldly mire with the help of those ladders.

Books take readers through streams of experiences, tapestry of reality, fantasy, mystery, emotion, information, entertainment, knowledge, etc.

Sometime back, waiting in the car for my husband to join me after his meeting, I saw an old man sitting on a stone bench outside an apartment. There was a vacant look in his eyes that were directed towards the sky and his fingers were fidgety with a typical restlessness. He was sitting like a statue in that stupor-like state, was definitely bored and slightly irritated at the noise produced by the construction workers on the other side of the road. After sometime, a young fellow came out of the apartment, gave the old man a book and his spectacles. I presumed it was his grandson. Now, there was a perceptible change in the scenario—he adjusted himself to sit comfortably, lifted his drooping shoulders and started reading the book. Observing him from a distance, I could visualize his mind, turning young again, running wildly and freely among the rich images of the imaginary world that the book had created for him. I could see a beatific smile on his face—his boredom vanish, his frown disappear. He didn’t even seem to mind the din of the construction work happening around. A book can raise the everyday to a different realm. It is said, “literature is real food for mind and a book is a banquet”—I saw that he was relishing the banquet.

We must teach our young ones to savour that ‘banquet’, and not get devoured by the junk food of cheap entertainment provided by the sensational low-brow literature which is easily available for the asking.

I was lucky to grow up in a house with lots of books around me. My father read voraciously despite his busy schedules and he set a powerful example. He made me realize how a reader can enjoy one’s world of goodness and beauty. He made me understand that by diving into books one can swim in the rivers of knowledge and joy. He wrote some beautiful and sensitive poems but never got them published—it seemed as though his muses were only his, to be cherished in his own heart. But they spread their fragrance into my impressionable mind. So, when I published my first book of poetry in Telugu, I dedicated it to the memory of my dear father. I will always remember him as my first teacher, as the one who guided me to write the very first alphabet.

Most of us know that 14 February is Valentine’s Day.—Many of us give flowers, chocolates, greeting cards to our loved ones on Valentine’s Day.—But how many of us know that 14 February is also celebrated as ‘International Book Giving Day’?

The apparently small act of giving a book can transform a person’s life. Here are a few suggestions to celebrate the day and make it a special one for the people around you.—Wrap up a box of books that your children have outgrown and give them to children who could really use them. Donate your books to your local second hand store, library, children’s hospital or old age home. You can also donate your books to an organization that educates children.

It is often said “when someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others”. We all benefit from books—hence gift them, so many others too would benefit.

“Value has a value only if its value is valued”—books are to be valued and respected for their great value— their influence is endless on us.

About the Author
Ambika Ananth, Chief Editor of Muse India, is a bi-lingual writer, poet, journalist and a translator, who has eight published works, both in English and Telugu. Ambika has a Masters Degree in Education and a PG Diploma in Journalism. She is a Life-member of Poetry Society of India, Dhvanyaloka of Mysore, and Lekhini of Hyderabad. Her other interests include painting and Astrology. She lives in Bangalore.

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