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Can a Book Change Your Life?

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 15th January 2014

From Shauna Waterman, Market Research Intern

“That was yesterday. To-day we pass on, we see it no more, and we are different, changed in some infinitesimal way. We can never be quite the same again.” - Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

can a book change your lifeIt’s the start of 2014 and there’s a lot of talk of New Year’s Resolutions, the cliché of ‘new year, new me’ and ‘new starts’. When we’ve already given up our New Year diets by the second week of January we have to think about what ‘new start’ really means to us and how we can change to become who we want to be in this New Year. January is a time where ideas of change are all around us and our January Short Course for Serious Readers is a way of showing how a book can help us do this, asking Can a Book Change Your Life?

From being at The Reader Organisation, I have a new understanding of literature. For the last three years, reading for me was something I had to get through in a week in order to have something useful to say in a seminar at university. Now, I can fully appreciate how a text can make me feel. From attending a Short Course for Serious Readers in the past (‘Test of the Sea’: reading Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad) I have seen how people find meaning in the texts, how they relate to their everyday lives and can draw memories from the past. If literature can do this, then we can use it to help create change in our lives.

At home, I’ve been very lucky to have parents that could always see a value in literature and helped me recognise this from an early age. As I got older my mum would share with me some of her favourite texts. One of her favourite poets is Maya Angelou and she has told me that she finds her poetry extremely inspiring to the point where she can continue her day feeling uplifted and enriched. Maya Angelou’s powerful prose resonate with her, give her understanding and she can often quote the poems in her everyday life to make her feel positive.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed. - When Great Trees Fall, Maya Angelou

If a text can make us feel inspired and positive then it is possible that it can help us embrace change, see our lives differently and make us think. Join us on Saturday 18th January, 10am-4pm at Calderstones Mansion House, Liverpool where Casi Dylan, our Literary Learning Manager, will be reading a series of prose and poetry which will help us to think about change and the forces it brings about. One of the pieces of literature we will be reading from on the day is Daniel Deronda by George Eliot:

“In the checkered area of human experience the seasons are all mingled as in the golden age: fruit and blossom hang together; in the same moment the sickle is reaping and the seed is sprinkled; one tends the green cluster and another treads the winepress. Nay, in each of our lives harvest and spring-time are continually one, until himself gathers us and sows us anew in his invisible fields.” - Daniel Deronda, George Eliot

Spaces cost £30 (including lunch)/£15 concessions, and there are a few left to get your year off to a good start considering some great literature. Contact Sophie Johnson to reserve yours on or call 0151 207 7207.

Find out more about our upcoming courses by visiting our website:

If you can't come along on the day, you can still let us know about the books that have changed your life, by tweeting or Facebooking us with the title.

1 thought on “Can a Book Change Your Life?

johncoyote says:

I believe books can. At my worst, Og Mandigo and Robert Schuller saved my life. In one of Og Mandigo books. A rich man was frustrated. He asked Mr. Mandigo. Show me a reason for my life and I will give you a million dollars. Og took the rich man to the graveyard and told him. These people are dead and have no chance no more. You are alive and can do many great things still. The rich man understood.” Good books can teach us how to live and think.

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