Stories are mirrors or windows. In those that are mirrors we see ourselves within the pages. Looking in mirrors we realize that there are others out there just like us, experiencing the same struggles, achievements, and joy. Mirrors provide us with a sense of belonging and help us further our personal identity. From mirrors we gain a sense of security and an idea of our purpose. For some of us, mirrors are found in the Western novels of Louis L’Amour, for others the classic Florida tales from authors such as Zora Neale Hurston, Patrick D. Smith or Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Still others see themselves in the big city stories of New York author James Baldwin or the Christian fiction of Beverly Lewis.
Windows are the reverse. They help us see the entire world and experience different cultures. When reading this type of story we can experience things we could never possibly imagine and gain an authentic perspective of life for those unlike us. Windows expose us to different types of people and help us build empathy for all people. Only seeing ourselves in the stories we read prevents us from seeing our world from a variety of viewpoints. Windows help us see the beauty in our own culture and the culture of others. Rather than divide us, windows bring us together.
I invite you to come to the library and step through the window. If you liked the multi-generational saga A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith you might enjoy A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. If you prefer a hard-boiled detective story try one of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels. If romance is what you’re after, you could try A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. Walk in another’s shoes by reading classics such as A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer, or Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. A balanced view of our world requires both mirrors and windows. By reading a wide variety of books we nourish our awareness, not only of others but also of ourselves. We gain clarification of what we know and illumination of the unknown. We don’t make stories, the stories we read make us.
Would you like to support Highlands County Libraries? Come to our BLOW OUT BOOK SALE at the Avon Park Public Library any Friday during the months of May through August between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM and purchase any hardcover book for only 50 CENTS! While you’re there, consider becoming a Friends of the Library member for only $10 per year. Your annual membership includes 12 free books!
To learn more about the Heartland Library Cooperative visit us at www.myhlc.org or follow us on Facebook at the Highlands Board of County Commissioners page!