By: Adam Sockel, OverDrive Marketing & Communications Specialist

Stephen King describes books as, “Uniquely portable magic.” That may be true, but I like to think of them as kindling, metaphorically of course. Each book you read is cholk-full of bits of kindling for taking your brain anywhere. When you find a spark, a nugget of an idea, you can build yourself a fire and brighten even the darkest times. Books can be your light. They guide. They comfort. They move emotions. Books change minds and lives. They’re the foundation of society, intelligence and the evolution of thought.

Gateway to anywhere
People often talk about books as a means of escapism. They allow you to tuck into your favorite nook and hide away in far off galaxies, distant pasts or impossible futures. I love the hidden secrets I get to share with books but I also love the conversations and doors they open up. We live in a world that is both more connected than ever thanks to the internet but also fractured into untold numbers of ideologies and beliefs. Whenever I see an opinion or statement I don’t understand, I head towards books to comprehend the points being made. It’s comforting to know that the knowledge of countless belief systems and minds is awaiting me. Answers are out there. I only need pick up a book to find them. A spark of an idea just waiting for me to ignite it.

A Story
The first author I ever interviewed for the Professional Book Nerds podcast was an unknown, debut author from the Netherlands named Marieke Nijkamp. This was 18 months ago. Since then, Marieke has become a #1 New York Times bestselling author (for 50+ consecutive weeks) and is on a major panel at Book Expo America. After we spoke, Marieke signed a copy of her now mega-hit book, This Is Where It Ends for me. Above her signature she wrote three simple words. Always choose hope. That’s what books are to me. They are hope. Hope of a world that can exist. Hope that things can and will improve and that anything is achievable. Hope that, as long as books are by my side, I’m never truly alone.

When tragedies strike our world, it’d be easy to let negativity and sadness take the day. Giving up sounds easy a lot of the time but it doesn’t solve anything. Instead, I look at that signature and am comforted knowing that comprehension for why these things happen is available in books. I don’t give up. I choose hope.

And so…
Books can show us a world we hope to someday live in or they can show us one we hope never becomes reality. They also have the ability to tuck us away into worlds that couldn’t ever possibly exist outside of our minds. They inspire us to do better. They don’t create the warmth and the flames themselves. They are the spark. They provide us the tools to create our own fire. To quote the great Lin Manuel Miranda, you simply have to, “fan that spark into a flame.”

So this is my love letter to books. You instill in us the ability to share our thoughts, learn from others, and expand our understanding of the world we live in. You provide hope that things can and will get better, as well as the instruments to be the change we want to see in the world. Books have been one of the constants in my life. Guiding me from a wandering child, yearning to find my place to the person I am today, writing this very post. For that I say, thank you. From the depths of my soul and the bottom of my heart.