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How Books Can Change Our Lives M any years ago, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. At the time, I was so confused and distraught. I kept asking things like, “Why is this happening to me? I’ve tried to lead a good, decent life. What did I do to deserve this?” That’s when my mother gave me a book called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” This book was written by a rabbi named Harold S. Kushner, and my mother had gotten it from her minister. It was a difficult time, but that book really helped me get through it. Kushner wrote the book after his son died of an incurable genetic disease at 14 years old. In the book, Kushner tried to answer that big question about why God allows pain and suffering in the world. There is no way for a human to answer this question, but Kushner’s book still manages to offer comfort to people in grief, including myself. There are always going to be good things and bad things in life, miracles and disasters, and reading Kushner’s words was very helpful to me during a difficult time.
I still have the paperback copy of “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” my mother gave me. I reread it occasionally and have given many other copies to people who have had serious issues arise in their own lives. A book can’t make a bad situation magically better, but it can help us gain a better understanding of the situation and find hope. I’m very glad I read this book and didn’t give up hope. Since then, I’ve been very blessed. I’m cancer-free, and I recently had a checkup that confirmed I’m in good health. Back in school and my early adult years, I wasn’t much of a reader. I’m not a very fast reader; I tend to read word by word, so it takes me a while to finish a book. But today, I have a much better reading habit. Several different books sit on my nightstand, and
every night I’ll read for at least 20 minutes before bed. It’s relaxing and enjoyable. Most of the books I read aren’t trying to tackle deep, philosophical questions, of course. I’ll usually read something entertaining, like James Patterson’s “Alex Cross” series or something pertaining to my profession, either on the topic of dentistry or sleep medicine. I also like to read inspirational self-help books. “Think and Grow Rich” is a classic I recommend everyone read. It was written in 1937, but it’s still full of sound principles and ideas. March 2 is Read Across America Day, and I think this is a good time to celebrate the real power of reading. A good book can inspire us to take action and change our lives, it can entertain us with some great adventure, and it can even give us hope in our darkest hour. This month, I encourage you to take just five minutes to read every day. You’ll be amazed at the good it will do for you.
“A book can’t make a bad situation magically better, but it can help us gain a better understanding of the situation and find hope.”
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