I speak a lot on this blog about the power of perspective and not being limited in thought. It occurred to me, as I was making my coffee yesterday morning and thinking about a book I needed to finish, that I thought about reading and the deeper role that literacy plays in our lives.
Perspective can be defined as:
“…a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.”
Television is not the only thing that can influence your perspective but so can books. Be careful what you’re feeding your mind. It can empower you or limit you.
#1 You Are What You Read
The saying, “You are what you eat” is used to convey the message that we should be careful what we are putting into our bodies. A stunning new report from the World Health Organization has concluded that there is clear scientific evidence that eating pork leads to cancer and I’m not just saying this because I don’t eat pork. (Even if it is gross and bad for your health). Over-doing the snacks is also not good and can hurt the kidneys and harm weight. Just like we are what we eat, we are also what we read!
What you put into your mind has the power to change you (either for better or for worse). While I love Black History and culture, these are not the only kinds of books that I read. I also read the bible and other books that provide useful information (either for my mind, body, or spirit).
#2. Reading One Type of Book
Do this and you will surely be confined to one form of thought. You can be passionate without being limited. There are books about Black History that are not written by African Americans and I don’t neglect them because of it. I don’t believe in the racial superiority of any sort whether that is White Supremacy or Black Supremacy. (I don’t even believe in white or black people. I use these terms specifically for understanding but I believe we are nations, not colors). That said, I do not shy away from networking with other nationalities of people and I do not neglect my own. I read Urban Fiction but I will also read Western Literature. I can converse with the woman on the corner and the intellectual. I’m not afraid to sit down with sinners and saints because I’m not a judge and it’s really none of my business what people think of me. That’s their problem. I will not be boxed in and I will not be limited.
#3. Neglecting Indie Authors
Readers should not be limited to reading just Traditionally Published books because you’ve read one poorly written book and now every Self-Published book is no good (even when they are being made into movies every day). The Shack, a book I own and have used for research for many years, is now being made into a movie. It started out as a Self-Published Book and became a USA Today Best Seller. It is now being made into a movie.
As an Independent Author, it is my duty to support this community so of course I read books written by Independent Authors. If I am reading something, like a classic novel, I make sure that I also have an Indie book to read. Since I’m a book reviewer, I almost always have one on hand. I don’t just read Indie books, I actually enjoy reading them. Indie books also tend to be cheaper than Trad so there’s really no excuse. You spend more on lunch, no, coffee! Two dollars and under a month (for an eBook) is not expensive. Go the extra mile and buy the paperback (I love paperbacks, obviously). Pick an Indie Author whose books you love that are well-written and support them. Or, pick a slew of Indie Authors and purchase at least one book a month. How can you really support Indie Authors (or change the way you think of us) if you don’t read our books? How can you say all Independent books suck if you’ve never read any? Writing books is the only Independent community where we are having this conversation! Indie Music Artists, for instance, are always supported.
#4. Neglecting Trad. Published / Classics
The door swings both ways people. Don’t neglect the Traditionally Published books and Classics either. Particularly since many of them are well-written. This next part may be sensitive for some of you but it is the truth:
Be Careful Reading Poorly Written Books
This is mainly for you writers out there. Balance is everything. I’m an Indie Author and I support Indie Authors but to disregard the elephant in the room is just naive. While I enjoy Indie books, not all Indie books are well-written.
I’m an advocate for reading period no matter how they were published and I read Indie Books as well as classics and Traditionally Published books because even if I don’t like a story, many of the classics do happen to be well-written. (Which isn’t to say Trad books are always well-written). This is important to me because if you keep reading books that are not up to par you can only begin to write just the same.
Again, I am not saying Indie books can’t compete with literary classics or traditional publishing. I am saying that there are still lots of Self-Published books that are just not well-written. To continue to read this kind of material is counterproductive. So, when reading be sure to have a balance.
#5. Morals / Values
I saved this for last because I know how sensitive we are about anything that we “perceive” to be religious. However, it must be brought up and goes back to the first bullet point: You are what you read.
There are lots of books that are great for research purposes and then there are books that are not worth your time. While some of you are strong enough to “chew the meat and spit out the bones” (take the information that is worthy and apply it and throw out the rest), some of you are also weak minded. By weak-minded I mean it doesn’t take much for you to be negatively influenced or adopt foreign beliefs even if they don’t make any sense.
If you know that you are easily swayed and unstable in your thoughts, you may want to stay away from certain literature that has the potential to change who you are.
Sure, I have books on the importance of watching what I eat but I am not going to become a vegetarian Goddess who condemns all meat-eaters because we should love animals. That’s what I am talking about. It’s not that serious people. How about you love the people around you.
As I say always, staying true to yourself is priority. There are some books that are not even worth your time and you have to be the one to discern that balance. People walk around like reading is just always good. It is not. Everything has a balance to it. There are books that are bad for you just like there is food that is bad for you. Make sure that as you read, you are also paying attention to yourself. Reading can influence your perspective in more ways than one.
Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the author of The Stella Trilogy and is currently working on her next book series. Renaissance: The Nora White Story Book One is due for release July 15, 2017. For updates on this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.