When a book is not just a book


by msabaye

We read books to learn, to enjoy, to pass or kill time. Sometimes we read books because we have to. Like in school. Often a book is just a book, but every now and then, a book becomes far more than sheer enjoyment or fun or a pure learning tool. It leaves a long lasting impression; it provides life long views and outlooks. I know of a few books like that, what about you?  

A few years ago, I went through very difficult times. Just as I was about to finish my PhD program, my family faced enormous problems. They needed my help, and I had to leave everything and go home for two weeks. I ended up staying there much longer. During this time, my husband and I lost many family members to illness and car accidents. My life was in chaos. I could not find any meaning in everything that was happening or any way out of all the disaster around me.

I came back and defended my PhD and started my postdoctoral work, but sadness, disorder, and confusion overwhelmed me. At some point, I came across a lecture series by Jean Vanier. His words helped me to a great extent. I found out that he had a book (Becoming Human), I obtained it and read it a few times. This book had a great influence on me; it helped me make sense of things, find peace and calm, and a desire to continue living. It was far beyond just a book; it was a window and a life-long outlook on life and people. I decided to share it with other people who were going through similar circumstances.

It took quite a few years of working on it at airports and on the planes and trains as my job involved a great deal of traveling. I did one chapter sitting behind my desk at home. Anyway, here is the result. I hope it helps you as much as it helped me:



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Azarin Sadegh

Great subject!

by Azarin Sadegh on

I can write forever about the books that changed my life! There are so many of them...(Hedayat's Blind Owl, Khayam's Robais, Forough's Tavalodi Digar, Kafka's Metamorphosis and Trial and Castle and everything else, Camus' Caligula and Myth de Sisyphe, Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, Sartre's The Nausea and the rest of his work, Dostoyevsky's The possessed, The Labyrinths of Borges, One hundred years of Solitude, Mowlana's book of Shams Tabrizi, etc...) 

But right now I am reading Orhan Pamuk's The New Life.

It started as, "I read a book one day and my whole life was changed."

Unlike the New Life's protagonist, I think all the books we read change our lives, or even better as Pamuk says himself, “You think you are reading the book (the book that has this incredible potential of changing your life), yet you are rewriting it.”

In other sense, the books and their protagonists belong to a virtual realm, which is just a pale copy/reflection of what/and who we really are. 

Thank you for bringing up such a wonderful subject! Azarin