Sunday, October 23, 2005

Influential Books - And How they Change Our Lives

Just received a comment from Rauf, wherever he may be, regarding not a post but a book I listed as an all-time favourite. The book in question is the 1949 speculative fiction "Earth Abides", by George R Stewart. Rauf says the book changed his life, and from what his life has been since he found the book second-hand, 20 years ago, I'd say it was a pretty major influence. You can read his comments, see sidebar "How Many Degree's..."

Aside from the obvious Mein Kampf, Little Red Book and Communist Manifesto (and a whole whack of others), books really have been the main transmitters of ideas for a very long time. Let's not go into a history lesson tho. Without them we'd still be farmers, blacksmiths, travelling salemen and herders. And tribute collectors.

Rauf also says that try as he might to share this book that so profoundly changed his perspective and life, his friends couldn't get past the first chapter. This, when you think about it is also really fascinating. I had the same experience after reading Frank Herbert's Dune for the first time. The novel can be appreciated on so many levels - as a basic boy-meets-universe novel, as political/religious analysis, as ecological warning, as huge examination of human behaviour and our interconnectedness to all other parts of the whole damned universe (quantum physics anyone?). I wanted to share Frank Herbert's ideas with my friends. They couldn't see past the sci-fi label to the meat of the treatise, either.

So why is that?

I still run that "...I shall not fear. Fear is the mindkiller..." quote through my head once in a while when life gets a bit too weird. It helps. And I have an exceptional nephew who is into camo and soldiering and saving us from the bad guys/monsters/aliens. I keep meaning to tell him that basic survival sometimes means pennies can be pounded into arrowheads and never mind the rayguns. Anyone who has read Earth Abides through to the end will know what I mean.

Anyone out there who has similar stories?
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