December 20, 2012 Leave a comment
A few weeks ago, we posted a quote on our Facebook page that read:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
The quote is by George R.R. Martin (writer of such weighty tomes as Game of Thrones). It got me thinking…what books inspired my love of reading, and more importantly, what inspired others?
With a background in literature, you may think the book that inspired me the most was some ponderous doorstep of a book like War and Peace or Moby Dick. I hate to disappoint, but my first exposure to books came through my grandmother who was an avid reader of Agatha Christie, the British mystery writer. She gave me Murder on the Orient Express to read when I was twelve and it was a revelation. It was a murder mystery, but more importantly, it was a puzzle that allowed me to figure out the killer. It taught me that the best part of literature is figuring out the clues to a story!
I hope you are inspired to pick up a book over the winter break and explore a different land or a different life. I asked my fellow teachers and co-workers what books inspired them, and I received a multitude of wonderful answers. Here are their picks in their own words. No matter what book you read, you will be better for it!
Dr. Robert Hancox (Dean of Academic Affairs):
This book has had a profound impact on me beginning as a young boy. During times of sorrow or sadness, certain passages have been especially uplifting. Interestingly there is humor in the Bible…but one has to search for it!
Dr. Dona Marie Fabrizio (Dean of Student Services):
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This book has held a special place in my heart since it came out years ago. While it is a simple children’s book, it has many deep layers both on an emotional and moral level I have used it as a teaching tool in elementary school, and I have given it as gift to those I care about. It truly is a special book with so much that you can take away with you.
Jack Bacon (Chief Information Officer):
Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery by Christopher Kennedy Lawford
Dealing with addiction is a very painful and frequently lonely process. Even after I got clean and sober I felt like I was different that everyone else. I knew I had gone through an incredible experience the day I hit bottom but I really felt that I was unique. I didn’t talk to anyone about it because I thought any rational person would think I had hallucinated what had happened to me. I didn’t realize that many people have had an awakening just as I had until I read Moments of Clarity and it made me realize that I’m not different, I’m not alone. There are thousands, if not millions of addicts out there just like me that have gone through hell, hit bottom and come out the other side a better person for it. It’s good to know you’re not alone!!!!
Suzanne Stewart (Architecture Program Manager):
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
I was pregnant with my first baby and I questioned the purpose of bringing life into this world if all there was to life were a few years and then death. This book changed my world view and the course of my life.
Joanne “JoJo” Colella (Academic Administrator):
Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
As my children were growing up this was one of my favorites. Reading it always made me feel like I could do anything in the world. For a children’s book I feel like it sends a really important message about life. Life is filled with ups and downs and we must keep marching along.
Charlene Chapman (Institutional Assessment):
- Tale of Two Cities – I learned HOW to REALLY read and understand things such as symbolism, analogies, etc. when I read this my freshman year of High School.
- The Holy Bible– valuable guidance in my life
- The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – thought provoking regarding the people who impact our life and who’s life we impact and how
- Chasing Daylight – I worked for KPMG under the leadership of the author, Gene O’Kelly, during his last months of life; this book hits on great points including keeping people in your life in the right concentric circle around you (closest needing the most of your attention, etc.)
- The Last Lecture – another reflection on what matters in life
Adina Tayar (Career and Transfer Services):
I don’t know about the book that shaped me the most, but the best book I ever read was Weave World by Clive Barker. I am not a Clive Barker fan, I don’t like any of his other books or his genre. But Weave World is an epic adventure, and when I read it in high school, it did more to spark and engage my visual imagination than any other book I had read up until then or even since. It was magical, fascinating and the best of escapes! It’s about a young man who falls out a window ‘onto’ an oriental rug and literally ends up being absorbed into the rug where he finds an entire world. You know how those rugs are full of intricate colors and patterns, well those made up an entire world of characters and plots and challenges. What a fun book! A wild ride! Truly, an epic adventure!
Another cool one is Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan about astral projection.
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous made a huge impact on me as did the The Lonely Lady by Harold Robbins, but not necessarily in positive ways. And then Secrets of the Shopping Mall by Richard Peck stands out because the mannequins came to life at night—way cool!
Gary Goldman (Chief Compliance Officer):
Under the Net by Iris Murdoch
I first read it as a naïve 19 year old college student. Murdoch introduced me to London and Paris – two cities I have since travelled to and now treasure. She taught me about love, work, fame, wealth, reality versus appearance, and the eternal madcap search for truth. While I am still grappling so many years later with the meaning of all of those things, it was her book and her ideas that gave me my first lesson in what we all spend our entire lives trying to figure out – which is what is the meaning of my life?
Karen Barbagello (Academic Support Counselor):
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This book had a great impact on my life. Remembering back it was many firsts for me…first time I really understood the ugly face of racism…first time I thought in terms of a single dad raising children and doing a great job…first time I understood the term rape…the first time I really understood that the truth didn’t matter if a group of people wanted something badly enough. In this case they wanted to find Tom Robinson guilty of rape only because he was a black man. I would have to say that I led a “sheltered” life at the time this book was published and this book just opened my eyes to good versus evil in a way I never knew before I read this book. When I finished it, I wasn’t as innocent in my thinking.
Mickey Somsanith (Faculty):
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by James Allen
A famous saying from the book “A man can make more money with the time he has, but no matter how rich he is, a man cannot make more time with the money he has.” It changed my life because it’s a great equalizer of the rich and the poor. We all have 24 hours in a day, and the 24 hours is given to us. Also, there is no way to get into debt, you cannot borrow time from the future, what is wasted will never come back. Your time is yours to waste and no man can judge you for how you spend your time. So spend it wisely because it is lost forever, when gone. And you can read it for free online or download onto an e-reader:
Craig Jacobs (Registrar):
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
The book convincingly makes that case that we all engage in self-deception to some extent, that our memories are fallible, in part, because of that self-deception, and that we therefore should be more self-critical before we act in life. It made me less likely to “demand” that my memory and interpretation of an event was the correct version. Ultimately, it reinforced a change in how I approach problems and life, more generally.
Sally Burke (Faculty):
I feel like every book I read changes me in some way! Here are my top 5 books that have made an impact on me:
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
- Sarah’s Key by Kristen Scott-Thomas
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
And if you just want to tickle your funny bone, read Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. It is laugh out loud funny!
Anna Marie Cassidy (Chief Financial Officer):
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
It reminds me of times with my sisters growing up.
Edie McFall (Academic Records Office):
Children’s Hospital by Peggy Anderson
The book followed six cases of ill children at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. The author was a nurse there. Reading the book impacted me greatly. Twenty years later, when my daughter was graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, the graduation ceremony was held in Convention Hall right across the street from the hospital. I was standing outside and I looked across the street at the hospital and I had to leave because I realized that there were parents looking down at us who would never be able to experience the pride and joy of seeing a child graduate from college. It was a profound moment, all because of that book.
Margie Hamilton (Director of Nursing):
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Terry Larsen (Admissions Counselor):
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
This may have been my favorite response!
Laura Murzynski (Administrative Support to the President):
She refused to play favorites! This is what she said:
This is like asking me to choose my favorite child. Or the best chocolate. Come on now! The thing is? I don’t remember ever not-reading all the time, so I can’t really say when I realized that a book changed my life. They have always done so. They will always continue to do so. They have taken me places I couldn’t have gone alone, and given me friends I would never have met without them. Many, many years, they WERE my friends, and I was just fine with that. What’s ever better than a book, a blanket, and some time to enjoy both on a rainy day? Books, real paper-pages books, are a gift.
Did any of our selections surprise you? Are you inspired to pick up a book and spend some time lost in time and space? All of us at the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology hope you have a wonderful winter break and we look forward to seeing you in January.
Be Safe! Be Healthy! Be Happy! Be Reading!