As one of my publishers celebrates its fifth anniversary with a huge sale, I wanted to take the time to reflect on the power of books.
This week was Back to School week–the first week swimming in a sea of high school students eager to read all the great works of literature. That is, when they aren’t busy social media-ing, Netflix-ing, and texting.
Our English department spent part of the week brainstorming ideas for a department t-shirt. We dwelled upon variations of “The pen is mightier than the sword.” I prefer Atwood’s quote, “A word after a word after a word is power.”
However you say it, it’s true. Words are powerful.
My mind keeps returning to this truth. When I watch a theatre full of movie-goers laugh or cry together, I realize that words have power. When I watch the eyes soften as a parent explains something to a child, I realize that words have power. When I look at history, I see that I am not alone. Books have been banned and burned, criticized and stigmatized. Words have power.
Words are dangerous to those who seek to keep power from others.
The upcoming U.S. election seems like a disaster waiting to happen, no matter what the outcome, and I’ve heard so many people express frustration and feelings of losing hope. I keep wondering if we can wake up as a society and demand a higher standard. And no matter what, I keep coming up with the same answer.
The safeguard to allowing a corrupt echelon to rule us is–ourselves. We are here with the ability to understand words–a beautiful gift that we usually take for granted. And we live during a time when information is easier to find than it ever was. All we need do is sit and read it.
During one of our mandatory teacher training sessions, we were challenged to push ourselves to read just a bit more than we were already doing. Even if it’s just a few pages each night, we all have a moment more to read. Whether it’s a news article, a biography, or a work of fiction, words have power. They can help us learn about our world, our universe, and ourselves.
I like to think of everything I read as possessing a tiny sliver of Truth, and the more I read, the closer I come to that elusive understanding of the world. Maybe if we swiped our screens a little less and allowed a bit more quiet reflection into our lives, we would start to wake up and see that we–rather than an elected official–possess the power to make our world a better place.
This long weekend, I have two books (one fiction, one non-fiction) that I’ve started, and I plan to finish them and post reviews on my blog in the following two weeks. Even with a seven-month-old and a dog currently sentenced to “the cone of shame,” I’m carving out the time.
I hope you choose to as well–because by reading, we can all make the world a better place.
Check out The Scarred Letter, 50% off this month (along with all of BRP’s books). Simply use code “BRP5YEAR” when you check out at www.barkingrainpress.org. You can also find the ebook discounted to $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever ebooks are sold.
Heather Primm never anticipated that a single blog post could ruin her life.
Heather’s scoop about steroid use by key players on the school football team sets off an investigation that strips the Orchard Valley Thunderbolts of their state title-and earns Heather a coveted journalism prize. Hated by those involved in the scandal, despised by jealous members of the newspaper staff, ignored by her newly-popular ex-boyfriend, and even berated by her mother, Heather is attacked and a chilling “T” is carved into her face.
Now stigmatized as a traitor, she becomes the object of scorn for nearly all of Orchard Valley High. But when the school offers to send her to a private academy to hush up the matter, Heather is forced to make a decision. Should she refuse to allow fear to control her life by holding to the truth, or accept the chance to escape and build a new life?
Written by a veteran English teacher, The Scarred Letter weaves themes from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter into an accessible, intelligent tale of modern isolation and a young woman’s quest for truth and acceptance.