The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.
On March 7, I visited a local outreach or alternate school for my first author visit. During that time I gave a presentation called “Unwrapping the ‘present’ of life: a Stoic path to peace.” This talk focused on some of the principles I discuss in my book, A Manual for Peace. As part of my speech to the students and their teachers, I spent a few minutes promoting 10 books that have really empowered my life. (If you’d like, e-mail me and I’ll send you the list of books).
By discussing these 10 books, I was trying to impress upon my listeners the inherent benefits of the pursuit of wisdom. But more than that, I wanted to reassure them that if they invested the time and read books like the ones I was promoting it would reap them many rewards. By rewards, I meant more clarity on the direction they should choose for their lives, as well as more of a sense of self-confidence that comes from filling your mind with the thoughts of great thinkers.
One of the books on my list is called The Magic of Believing, by Claude M. Bristol. As I showed this book to my audience, I opened up to a page with the following quote: “The greater the reader, the more his thinking is stimulated, and if he is a man of action, the more his efforts are accelerated.” That’s exactly the message I wanted to get across to the group.
The American author and speaker, Les Brown, once said: “If you take responsibility for yourself you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.” The way I see it, as these students (or any person for that matter) create the discipline to seek out the wisdom in great literature, it will open up a whole new world of possibilities. This new world of possibilities reveals itself as we journey within. By that I mean, when we include as part of our reading regimen a selection of books from the self-help literature, we light the fires of achievement that may be somewhat dormant inside us. We then become more intentional about our purpose in life, and magnify our belief in what’s possible for us to achieve.
During my presentation to the students, I was also trying to emphasize that self-education through reading great books will help them build up their character. As a result of this gradual process of character development, all of us can become stronger supports to the people around us. Several years ago I read an excellent book called I Dare You! It was written by William Danforth and was first published in 1931. In his book, Danforth had this to say on the topic of serving others: “Every time we come in contact with another person, even though just walking a block, our job is to lead him to a higher plane than that one on which we found him.”
Leonard Quilty is a teacher with the Centre for Learning@Home, a fully-accredited and publicly-funded Christian school that combines the expertise of Okotoks Home Schooling Services and St. Paul's Academy Online School and is part of Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit his website at: www.inspiredtoteach.com