Words Shape People: The Why And How

As readers we are all well accustomed to the feeling of being pulled into the fictional world of our books. But have you ever stopped and wondered why? Keep reading to find out!

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I have always said, “Pieces of every book I’ve read, glued together by my infatuation for quotes and pretentious metaphors, have made me who I am today.” And till recently, I thought this was just some profound quote my mind thought up. But there are scientific reasons behind it, and we at Bookstr are here to explore some of these reasons!

Additionally, we have compiled a list of beautiful biographies of people for whom books have shaped their lives!

The Why

Literature serves as a portal. It transports us, sometimes into an alternate world, but almost always into the mind of the reader. Within the words of the text are little pieces of the author itself. Their likes and dislikes, annoying quirks and biggest peeves, their hopes and dreams sometimes poured into fictional characters, sometimes written raw and blunt.

I’ve been a resident of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, fought alongside Napoleon, sailed a raft with Huck and Jim, committed absurdities with Ignatius J. Reilly, rode a sad train with Anna Karenina, and strolled down Swann’s Way.

– Rory Gilmore’s Chilton Graduation Speech
A huge wall of old books with papers flying, a huge door and a girl in a white ballgown reading
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Books and literature play a powerful role in shaping who we are. Whether we’re grappling with moral questions in a philosophical book or exploring complex relationships in fiction, the impact is deep. As we absorb the narratives, characters, and ideas presented in books, we not only gain knowledge but also develop a richer understanding of ourselves and others.

The How

The diverse perspectives encountered in literature open windows to worlds we may never physically visit, fostering empathy and tolerance. They spark curiosity, fuel imagination, and instill a lifelong love for learning. In essence, the influence of literature extends beyond the pages, leaving a permanent mark on our beliefs, values, and the very essence of a reader’s being.

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The characters we encounter, the moral dilemmas we ponder, and the emotions we vicariously experience through literature become integral components of our personality. The virtues portrayed and the challenges faced by literary figures serve as guides, shaping our ethical framework and contributing to the development of our characters.

Book Recommendations

We have compiled a short list of books, primarily fiction but inspired by reality, that highlight how books and literature shaped lives and personalities.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

While the novel is set against the backdrop of World War II and follows the life of a young girl named Liesel Meminger, it goes beyond a traditional war narrative. The story is narrated by Death and revolves around Liesel’s relationship with her foster parents, her friends, and her fascination with books.

Cover page of the book thief
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The power of storytelling and the written word becomes a central theme in the novel, as Liesel steals books and shares them with others, finding solace and connection through literature.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a classic children’s novel that tells the story of Matilda Wormwood, a young girl with extraordinary intelligence and a love for reading. Unfortunately, Matilda’s parents are neglectful and dismissive of her abilities, but she finds solace in books and education.

Cover page of Matilda
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The novel explores themes of empowerment, resilience, and the transformative power of literature. Matilda’s love for reading not only helps her escape the difficulties of her home life but also gives her the strength to stand up against injustice.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The novel is an epistolary novel, meaning it is presented in the form of letters, and it tells the story of Juliet Ashton, a London-based writer, who receives a letter from a man named Dawsey Adams living in Guernsey. Dawsey found her name inside a book he had read and enjoyed, and a correspondence begins between Juliet and the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Cover page of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
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The letters reveal the story of how the book club was formed on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation in World War II. The club becomes a way for the islanders to share their love of literature and provide comfort and support to one another during difficult times.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

The memoir recounts Nafisi’s experiences as a literature professor in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In response to the restrictive cultural and educational environment, Nafisi gathered a group of young women in her home for secret book discussions.

Cover page of Reading Lolita In Tehran

The group focused on works of Western literature, including Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, among others. Through the exploration of these literary works, the women in Nafisi’s book club found a space for intellectual freedom and a means of coping with the oppressive political climate.

I truly am pieces of every book I have read, and I think each and every reader can attest to this!


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FEATURED IMAGE VIA BOOKSTR / RIYAH DUGAR