Books, quotes can have impact of a lifetime
Some time ago, I asked Write or Wrong readers to share their stories about a book that changed their life.
In the spirit of spring, and renewal, I offer three of their stories today.
■ “To bring anything into your life — imagine it is already there,” wrote Richard Bach in “Illusions.”
Cheryl Lewis, owner of Crystal Books and Gifts, 439 Main St., said her late husband, Jim, had an enduring dream of opening his own bookstore.
“He had a name, a logo and a floor plan for five years before opening this store,” she said. “When the bust hit Grand Junction in 1982, he was eventually laid off from his job. After several years of unemployment and all of our savings gone, he was reminded of this quote from ‘Illusions.’ He put together a business plan, inspected rental locations, drew up construction plans, and created future inventory orders but was turned down by six banks for business loans.
“A casual conversation with three people resulted in enough money to open a business on a shoestring budget. The money was received on a Friday and we opened 10 days later. We just celebrated our 26th anniversary.
“I believe that quote changed both of our lives for the better!”
■ Jim Hale, author of “An Alaskan Life of High Adventure” was the recipient of an outdoor adventure book his dad purchased at an Anchorage, Alaska, bookstore.
“The book that opened my heart to a wholly different path for my life as a young man was ‘On Snow and Rock’ by French mountain guide Gaston Rebuffat,” Hale said.
“It enchanted me. I spent hours reading the accounts of climbing in the Alps and gazing at the beautiful mountain landscapes. It seemed another world. I was inspired and challenged to seek that world out and experience it for myself, which by God’s grace I was able to do, especially in Alaska and the Himalayas.
“Roni (his wife) and I repeated the pattern in many ways but especially in writing and photography. They have become powerful means of communication for us of the beauty of nature and creation. I had no idea as I read that book that I would not only follow in Rebuffat’s footsteps, but that the trail would lead me further on into the adventure of being a pastor, missionary and author.”
■ Charlie Quimby, author of “Monument Road,” was prepared to answer.
“Over the past year I’ve given some thought to your question because it’s one I expect to crop up in author interviews,” he said. “As a writer and longtime reader, I feel like I should be able to come up with a title that fulfills the expectation a book can change a life. However, my answer doesn’t reduce well to a recommended title or pithy anecdote about encountering a book with magical powers.
“I believe that giving ourselves over to another’s ideas, experiences and way of looking at the world can certainly change us. In fact, it’s essential to being human. It’s possible a certain book may speak to us above all others — and I suspect your quest for stories is based on the knowledge that a treasured book may arrive at a particular moment in our search for meaning, inspiration or comfort. We find the great book we need ... or, finding exactly what we need makes it a great book.
“As life-long readers, we have the opportunity to replicate these rewarding encounters — and as they recur, perhaps the individual books become less important to us than the process of being continually open to discovery.
“Despite all the great and helpful books I have read in my life, no individual book has had as much influence upon me as individual people. That said, I’d pick Loren Eiseley’s ‘The Night Country.’ He was an anthropologist who helped inspire the environmental movement by describing the natural world using scientific concepts while employing a poetic sensibility that also drew from personal biography and a sense of wonder.
“As a person who looks to science for explanations and to art for inspiration and human insight, I found his writing a beautiful balance. Better than any religious text or more outwardly spiritual writing, he captured my sense of being alone in the universe and tied it to being part of something amazing and boundless. For people who appreciate Aldo Leopold and Edward Abbey, Eiseley is an equally accessible but even more profound treat.
“Or maybe not ...”