All month on the Banned Books Week display table, there was a jar. A label on the jar read “Books change lives.” Next to the jar were slips of paper and pencils. The jar was empty on September 1, but by September 30…
…it was full! These are the books that made a difference in the lives of Arlington’s readers, and I’m sure there are many, many more.
The book titles in the jar included many children’s classics: Green Eggs & Ham, The Railway Children, Flat Stanley, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, The Lemming Condition, and the historical biography “Who Was…?” series. There were a number of old and new teen titles as well, including A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Ender’s Game, Celine, The Golden Compass, The Fault in Our Stars, Thirteen Reasons Why, and Annie on My Mind.
Unsurprisingly, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery was in the jar. This book, as many readers know, transcends age and genre, and is beloved by many.
There were the traditional classics: two people mentioned To Kill A Mockingbird, one said Moby Dick, and another said the poems of Dylan Thomas were “like reading English for the first time.”
But newer formats were represented right alongside the traditional ones; two graphic novels, Maus by Art Spiegelman and Capacity by Theo Ellsworth, also earned the “books change lives” honor.
Adult fiction held its own, with Pillars of the Earth, Middlesex, The Untouchable, Marjorie Morningstar, The Spook Who Sat By the Door, and The River in Winter.
Adult nonfiction titles were in the jar too: River of Doubt, Women Who Run With the Wolves, and Godel, Escher, Bach.
Then there were the titles with a religious, spiritual, philosophical, or mythological bent: The Bible, Beyond God the Father, Prayer and Personal Religion, My Grandfather’s Blessings, Kitchen Table Wisdom, and C.S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces. And there were two memoirs: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination.
The diversity of titles listed above reflects the diversity of our community, and highlights the value of the library as a resource to all – no matter your age, beliefs, opinions, or tastes, the library has something for you. In addition to little slips of paper, the “books change lives” jar contains something else: the essential importance of the freedom to read. The contents of this jar affirm the importance of the library in providing access to all kinds of books, so that everyone can find what they want or need.