Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You Are What You Read?

Old cliches can provide an interesting ice breakers for starting a conversation or speech. The old adage that a person is what he eats is very true. Staying with the line of "consuming" and becoming that which is consumed, can this cliche be applied to reading? Can a person become what they read? This question was brought up during a "self-help" seminar with the speaker insisting that if people who are motivated enough read books that can shape attitudes, build self=confidence, and share winning strategies for success then a reader will become successful. This causes a thoughtful and deep thinking librarian to wonder if this could be tested. For example, Napoleon Hill's book Think and Grow Rich is a well known title and has been reprinted several times. Wouldn't it be interesting to find out if after reading this book how many readers actually have become rich? Another well known self-help book, and quite possibly the book that set the standard for motivational books to follow, is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People . Again, it would be curious to know how many readers actually have found themselves with more friends and influence after reading the book. The publishers claim that the literary work has helped millions. Yet the skeptics wonder if this could be true. If readers, don't become rich or influential, the authors could point out that perhaps the reader didn't apply what they read to their own lives. Which may be true. One thing is for certain, publishers are still in the business of self-help titles because they sell. Self-help books are not misleading and in many cases can be quite inspirational. The books are very easy to read, and in most cases can be "consumed" quickly. For the business minded person this works well for them. For the serious reader, who enjoys a good book regardless of if its fiction, nonfiction, or biographical, most tomes can teach a lesson, be inspiring or provide pure entertainment. Anyone who has read To Kill A Mockingbird will invariably say that they inspired by Atticus Finch and thought of becoming a lawyer or at the very least, would want a lawyer like him to be on their side. The written word has a way of changing lives and mind. In every book, even if it is badly written, there something to be gained from what the author has to say. A list of classic titles that have changed a person's life could be an arm's length or as short as one. This is what is inspiring about reading and libraries in general. The possibilities are endless. To answer the question can a reader become what they read? Yes of course they can! Doctors read medical books and journals to become better at their profession. Business professionals read books that can inspire them to reach the next level. AS for librarians, all genres are on the table, because any book could become an ice breaker to starting a conversation with a patron. Choosing what the next "ice breaker". title is going to be is tough. Perhaps going through a list of inspiring titles might help. Any suggestions?
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