“One glance at a book and you actually hear the voice of another person — perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”
—Carl Sagan, 20th Century American astronomer, astrophysicist & author
Image from Amazon
The book Cosmos by Carl Sagan was first published in 1980. It was a sensation, and Sagan became an astronomic hit (pun intended!). His work significantly popularized the explorer in each of us, to more fully examine our relationship with the universe and the role man has as a pioneer and adventurers of our solar system and beyond.
His word played a considerable role in bringing humanity’s voice, images, and the sounds of Earth to the rest of the galaxy, through the famous Golden Records attached to the Voyager probes launched in 1977.
When we look into space and see the cosmos, we are seeing the past based on the finite speed of light. Despite traveling 35,000 miles per hour, Voyager has only traveled a bit over 13 billion miles — well short of even the closest star in our Milky Way Galaxy.
What are the most influential books that made a lasting impact on your life? How have the voices of the recent and distant past taken you on a voyage through time to contemplate the thoughts and wisdom of man through the years?
“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
—Sir Francis Bacon, 16th Century Lord Chancellor of England
Image from Unsplash by Thought Catalog
I have a math problem for you on the subject of books. According to Google’s advanced algorithms, about 130 million books have been published in all of modern history.
Consider multiplying 130 million by the number of hours it takes you to read an average book, giving your reading speed. To keep it simple, let’s assume it takes you ten hours. Multiply 130 million by ten and you see that it would take you one billion, three hundred thousand hours to read all the books published in modern history.
Now let’s pretend you began reading at birth, and that, given advanced medical breakthroughs, you live to be 100.
If my math is correct, it would take 876,000 lifetimes to read them all – far more if you took time to sleep, work, eat, or do anything other than read.
As you examine your book tasting efforts, which new books, or perhaps a few oldies but goodies, are worth your valuable time in the years ahead?
“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
—Mason Cooley, Late American Aphorist
Photo by Laëtitia Buscaylet on Unsplash
My mother, Rose, was the most avid reader I’ve ever known. As a boy, I would frequently go with her to the library where, every three weeks, she would pick a new batch of 12 books. She devoured them every evening after dinner.
I recall her frustration on one occasion, in that she could not find, in our small local library, enough books of interest that she had not already read.
Although she was never a world traveler or college graduate, she took countless trips with her vivid imagination – wherever her written portals to adventure would take her.
Consider visiting your local library or bookstore to pick up a book that will take you on a great adventure, from the comfort of your favorite chair.
“The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.”
—Joseph Joubert, 19th Century French Essayist
Image from Flickr by Saimad
Because I am heavily invested in personal and professional development, I am always on the lookout for the next ground-breaking book. I thrive on new ideas and the concept of finding a better way to improve the world.
If you are like me, you sometimes find new books a bit of a letdown in that they often repackage old ideas in ways that fall short of the originals.
Consider a Google search on this phrase:
The greatest ___________ books of all time. Fill in the blank with whatever types of books you value and enjoy most.
“Some books are undeservingly forgotten. None are undeservingly remembered.”
-W.H. Auden, 20th Century English Poet
Image from Flickr by UNCG Research
Do you love books, as I do? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Regardless of your choice, take a moment to recall the books that told a great story or taught a profound lesson that has stayed with you to this day.
What percentage of the books you’ve read have you forgotten completely – perhaps undeservedly – due to a less than optimally open and receptive mind?
How would a far more open mind and receptive attitude toward seeking value and benefit from the books you read support you in living a fuller and more prosperous life?
Reading a book takes effort. Watching a movie, not so much. More often than not, many if not most movies fall short of their books.
Tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in movies based on books because the characters and stories amaze readers. It is in these stories and characters that our visions of these works of art are envisioned and portrayed by producers and directors. Unfortunately, even with brilliant actors and special effects, the images on screen rarely capture what our own creativity and imagination can create from the words of a masterful storyteller.
Books allow us to pace ourselves and literally savor each bit of dialogue or image painted, if we choose to do the work the writer intended. Phrases like “I couldn’t put it down,” or “page turner” are familiar to all of us who have been fortunate to get our hands on great books.
These works also tend to have a lasting impact in that their messages and images penetrate deeply, due to the active role the reader must play.
Perhaps a picture does not always paint 1,000 words, and the words found in books allow us to paint more masterful pictures in our hearts and minds.
Consider reading the book upon which a current film has been made, either before or after attending a screening.
Determine which you enjoyed the most, or felt had the greatest impact.