Giving Back: A love of books

Thanks to Fly Brother, today I was completely absorbed in The Art of Nonconformity and specifically, Guillebeau's A Brief Guide to World Domination. While it's way too intriguing for me to get into here, I do have to seriously encourage you to check out the guide, check out the blog, and start planning how you too can live outside the box.

While I'm still calculating my strategy for World Domination and mulling over Guillebeau's first question "What do you really want to get out of life?", I have been thinking a lot about the second question that he poses: "What can you offer the world that no one else can?" Yes I know - very big questions but on some level I think we all ask ourselves these questions anyway so it shouldn't be that big a deal.

So taking a momentary break from thinking of all the things that the world to do for me (least of all entertain me with pretty places and people), I've been thinking about what I can do for the world. What do I get so excited about that I can share with others? I don't know if it's 'service' but one things I would love to give back to the world is a love and appreciation of reading and storytelling. Every cell in my body literally cringes whenever I hear of someone who doesn't like to read. In disbelief, my answer is always the same: they just haven't found their book because if they had, no one could say such a thing. It's so saddening!

I know that stories cannot fill the stomach of a starving person or give the unemployed a paycheck, but I'm a faithful believer that stories fill an even deeper void by helping people feel connected and heard. First, I would gather all those people (especially adults) who don't know how to read and start them on the path to literacy. Second, I would gather all of those who 'don't like to read' and take them to a library. Everyone would get one companion who would first just sit and talk with that non-lover of words and just listen to what's happening in their lives and important events that have happened. Then that person would help them find the right book for them; something they can see their reflection on. But you can't stop with just handing the person a book! Maybe starting off with a short story (always a great entry point), part of the stotry would be read out loud to get that non-reader a little bit hooked. When they are at a point of no return (you all know that point where come hell or high water you cannot put the story down until your eyes have captured the very last word), then the companion can live them alone (of course with suggestions on next reads). Third, that non-lover of the written word, once converted will join the mission to help others lost souls find their book/story. I can totally see it...a whole army equiped with great books ready to convert the masses!!!

While it may not be the conventional way to serve, in honor of everyone that has given me the joy of a great book and a love of reading, I think the best way to pay it forward is to share that passion.


kelly jo said...

with this whole 'reading to the community' thing i've realized i have a passion for getting folks excited about reading too! i think it's something i'll carry with me for the rest of my life. what's great about it is that it's free and it's so individual but such an exchange at the same idea. a story can mean something completely different to me after i've talked to someone about it - especially if they have read or know the story too. thanks for this b. a good reminder of what things can mean in life...

Chris Guillebeau said...

Thanks so much for the endorsement - I'm glad you enjoyed the manifesto. I lived in Liberia for more than a year and have fond memories of those days in Monrovia (after the war ended).

All the best,