Roxanne Coady left a career in tax accounting to open a business of her true dreams, R. J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT. (A very lovely town!). She participated, with other literacy minded citizens to start a non-profit organization, which now promotes literacy for children and their parents. All proceeds from this book, will go to the Read to Grow group.
She asked authors who came to her bookstore to write down what books influenced them. The result of their musings is this work.
I liked the authors’ thoughts. It has encouraged me to put some works on my to-read stack. For example, Jacques Pepin, a famous chef, said that Albert Camus’ work, The Myth of Sisyphus “is a book about the absurdity of man’s conditions in a world without God..Camus is saying there is reason to be hopeful, that man must understand his condition, and must struggle, fight, and rebel against the absurdity of life… we must and can dignify life through our deeds and behavior…” Since I am already a fan of Beckett’s plays, this work would add another dimension to appreciation of absurdism.
Other works that I am curios about are G.K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.
When writing about this topic, Da Chen’s story about the importance of books touched me the most and is a true example of the truth being stranger than fiction.
He grew up in a poor village in China in the 1970s. There was no movie theater nor TVs. The main form of entertainment was storytelling.
One day, a native returned home from a 20 year sentence and brought back some books that he stole from the army library. He set up a reading room; for one fen (a penny) and one sitting, you could read a book. A longer book required more sittings, and no book could leave his shop.
Chen and his friends used sold empty toothpaste tubes to the recycling man for a fen. He also sold herbs to the hospital, looked for loose change, and collected horse manure for the fertilizer man! Someone tattled to the local Communist chief and burned all the books in the reading room. Chen states that “I would do anything for a good meal but I would really do even more for a book…Ironic that I should love to read in the book desert China was then.”
After the reading room was gone, Chen and his pals would hand-copy chapters from a book to create a new book that they would pass around. They also broke into libraries in other villages that had been damaged by typhoons and take back moldy books to copy.
(I think that I would do the same!)
It’s interesting to see the other authors’ insights on works that I have already read and learn something else from that work.
I hope that you find this book and help support Read To Grow.