I picked up the book, held it close to my chest and walked proudly to the checkout. I never made it to the toy aisle.
That was the beginning of a lifelong journey in which books would shape and change me, making me who I was to become.
We couldn’t afford many books. We had a small collection. They were kept on a homemade, rough-hewn bookcase about three feet tall with three shelves. One shelf held the encyclopedia, a gift from our uncle, books that provided my brothers and me a chance to see the world without leaving home.
The other shelves held a hodgepodge of books, most of which were giveaways my mother picked when school librarians thinned their collections at the end of the year. I read what we had and cherished the days that our class at school was allowed to go to the library — a space I approached the way most people approach religious buildings — and the days when the bookmobile came to our school from the regional library.
It is no exaggeration to say that those books saved me: from a life of poverty, stress, depression and isolation.
James Baldwin, one of the authors who most spoke to my spirit, once put it this way:
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”
That is the inimitable power of literature, to give context and meaning to the trials and triumphs of living. That is why it was particularly distressing that The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann pointed out Tuesday that:
“The Pew Research Center reported last week that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978.”
The details of the Pew report are quite interesting and somewhat counterintuitive. Among American adults, women were more likely to have read at least one book in the last 12 months than men. Blacks were more likely to have read a book than whites or Hispanics. People aged 18-29 were more likely to have read a book than those in any other age group. And there was little difference in readership among urban, suburban and rural population.
I understand that we are now inundated with information, and people’s reading habits have become fragmented to some degree by bite-size nuggets of text messages and social media, and that takes up much of the time that could otherwise be devoted to long-form reading. I get it. And I don’t take a troglodytic view of social media. I participate and enjoy it.
But reading texts is not the same as reading a text.
There is no intellectual equivalent to allowing oneself the time and space to get lost in another person’s mind, because in so doing we find ourselves.
Take it from me, the little boy walking to the Kmart checkout with the picture book pressed to his chest.Continue reading the main story
If you need help writing an essay on a book, you have come to the right place. Known also as literary essays, this type of essay can be equated more or less to a modern day book report. Once you get your thoughts organized it can be a really easy task.
Here are the basic steps:
1. Select a book - This may already be done for you, if you are currently enrolled in either an English or literature class.
2. Determine the goal for the length - Keep in mind that an essay on a book would already have a predisposed assigned number of words. Let’s set the word count (for the sake of illustration) at 500 words. A 500-word essay is pretty comprehensive and would allow you enough words to describe the plot of the story while having time to disseminate what themes are present and what morals are being conveyed.
3. Decide on a format and style - You will probably be told to use either MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (Amercian Psychological Association) standard writing style.
So, if you were assigned a 500-word essay, using MLA format, then you would need to use a Times New Roman, 12-point font, with a one-inch (all around) page margin and double space throughout the essay.
4. Read the assigned book. Let’s say (once again for the sake of illustration) that you were assigned to read a book entitled "The Count of Monte Cristo." You would need to be familiar with the themes that are within the story behind "The Count of Monte Cristo."
Sample Help Writing an Essay on a Book
So you have your book, the formatting is complete and you know the word count for the essay. Half the battle is won regarding writing this essay. Basically, you would begin your essay introducing the book.
For example, you might begin your essay like so:
"The Count of Monte Cristo" is a action-adventure book written by the popular French author, Alexandre Dumas.
So your first sentence is pretty straightforward and tells what book you read and who the author is. The second, third, and fourth sentences give a bit of background on the storyline and then the fifth sentence concludes the first paragraph yet provides a smooth transition into the second paragraph. The last sentence may go something like this,
While the plight of revenge of Edmond Dantes was engaging, the idea of forgiveness was completely remiss throughout the text.
You may consider opening the second paragraph with a quote from the book or something that really stood out thematically to you as a reader. Here is another example of a leading sentence that you would start out your second paragraph with.
"Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes."
Possibly one of the most memorable quotes in the entire book, this quote gives a solid basis to move forward to the next thought. Spend the next sentences exploring the quote that set the tone for the second paragraph. Then, spend the next few paragraphs engaging your reader with your view on the book and what you have learned.
The good thing about writing an essay on the book is that you can present both sides of any argument that may pervade the storyline of the book. The sky is literally the limit on what information you can present.