things you live and die for

My cousin Helen, who is in her 90s now, was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day. And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty. She had gotten hold of a copy of ‘Gone With the Wind’, and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read. And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story. These girls were risking certain death for a story. And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important. Because giving people stories is not a luxury. It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for.” ― Neil Gaiman

It’s so easy to take for granted the written word and the power of stories, but this reminiscence by Neil Gaiman — one of my favorite authors — reminds me that books are vital and even indispensable in our lives and our world. Can you imagine a world without the books that tell us stories of transformation, courage and love? Who would we be if we hadn’t read and pondered books like “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Pride and Prejudice”? What kind of world would we be living in without the inspiration of William Shakespeare or Jane Austen? I wouldn’t like to live in that world.

How about you?

6 Comments

  1. Nancy Lepri on April 25, 2021 at 5:30 am

    Amen, Emilie! I don’t care if I never watched TV, but take away my books…no way!

  2. DELORES on April 25, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Books tell stories that TV and movies really can’t capture! Would be lost without tgem!

  3. Pat Kennedy on April 25, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Books can take us on a journey, stimulate our imagination, make us laugh, and also make us cry. A world without books would be a sad place indeed. Thanks to all those who write them.

  4. Catherine Larklund on April 25, 2021 at 11:29 am

    This truly hits home. Perhaps one of the most profound reading experiences of my young life was Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. His tale of a world without books was the epitome of horror to me. I immediately started to attempt to memorize the current book I was reading/fascinated by, a sci-fi novel, The Dolphins of Altair, author not remembered. I didn’t get very far, but it made me very aware of how precious the printed word is. I wonder if that is why I’m unable to pass up the chance to buy a book? Perhaps…. sounds like a good excuse at any rate.
    Thank you for being a writer.

    • Emilie Richards on April 25, 2021 at 12:50 pm

      That’s a great story and a good example of how powerful a book can be in our lives. I have been really blessed to be able to write and share my stories. It really is an honor. As for not passing up the chance to buy a book? Everyone here can relate, right folks?

  5. Denise Almazar on April 27, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    I have to say, I too would not like to live in a world without books… but there must have been wonderful storytellers in the past who had a “book” in them that had to get out! Even if they couldn’t write, they could tell that story to all that would listen. It makes me think of times I’ve visited Ireland and listened to wonderful storytellers. What a wonderful treat that was. It’s like an in-person audio book! It also makes me think off the movie with Danny Kaye as Hans Christian Anderson telling the story of Thumbelina to the young girl in the movie! 😊 I guess we could survive a world without books, we would just need to find the storytellers!

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