Unwarranted Opinions: the power of books


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column “UnWarranted Opinions,” staff reporter Drew Julao takes on a variety of topics and gives her take.

Drew Adrian Julao, Staff Reporter

As a child, my mother would read me chapters from novels to sleep at night, to talk all of my stress away until morning came. I remember the stories running through my head like my own private little theatre where I could escape to each and every night. Magic would come alive and words would fill my head until I went to school in the morning and stared at the walls, daydreaming about a much more action-packed, fun, eventful life than my time in math class.

I was young when I realized that I could read by myself. I can’t remember my age, but I remember the book, Hop on Pop. I remember being bored and thinking “I want someone to read me a book” and then thinking again a few minutes later “well, can’t I read to myself?” That’s how I found myself at the bookshelf picking out a book and reading it on the bed.

Now I have amassed a collection of around 168 books in America and 3 times that amount in the Philippines. Some may call me a book connoisseur, others may call me a hoarder, I simply say that books are my life.

I remember sitting down in the backs of classrooms to read while the teacher taught subjects I found not uninteresting, but difficult to understand, but I would always listen in English class. There is something so beautiful about the way words worked together, about how we can manipulate them and create out of nothing. I was in the Creative Writing club in primary school, and I loved it so much that I sat through it, never mentioning my ailments one day until I had vomited all over myself. Disgusting, yes, but dedicated, yes.

Afterward, my teacher laughed so hard at me as I smiled at her through vomit-stained teeth. She said, “Drew, you like this class so much that you’d sit there without telling me that you’re sick!” I replied “I’m sorry… I just didn’t want it to end.” Then, in the custody of the nurse, I vomited again just in time for my mom’s arrival.

Stories have the ability to transport you to a new world, make you another person, give you magical abilities, and much, much more. I have wanted that ability for as long as I can remember, to write something that would inspire, and make others feel.

Books can do so much! Common Sense by Thomas Payne made colonial rebellions into a full blown revolutionary war for independence. Walden by Henry David Thoreau inspired the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. in his pursuits of civil disobedience. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie invoked a fatwa (ruling of Islamic law given by a person of authority) on the author’s life on accounts of blasphemy.

They reach farther than people think and influence the people that read them. They are not only stories or words, but a voice for the author to imprint on people’s minds and enlighten them on things that can be swept aside or misunderstood. Take, for example, How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, where he documented the lives of immigrants in New York during the Gilded Age, exposing the wealthy to understand how difficult living in America had been for this so-called “other half”, which realistically was the majority.

Books carry legacies and teach us about how far humanity has come. We get enjoyment from them and we learn to sympathize better with others. We are taken on adventures with hobbits and we go to schools for Witchcraft and Wizardry. To put it better, I think I should let another author speak for me:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.”

George R. R. Martin