The 10 Greatest Things I’ve Learned from Books


10. Everyone has a story to tell.

You may not be a Faulkner or a King, but if you feel compelled to tell a story, tell it. Go for it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Even if only a few people have read your novel or short story, you have passed on memories, thoughts, feelings, that they may have not considered otherwise.


9. Publishers are gatekeepers, but they don’t make the gates; only centuries of great books can do that.

Do you want to know if you’ve found a good book? Do you want to know if you can write? Don’t ask your parents, friends, social media, or even in some instances, agents and publishers. Ask all the centuries of great books. What elements do they have in common? Does your book/writing contain those elements? Great books are my sanity-keepers on those low-confidence days. Perhaps this is why so many great authors have said that the best thing aspiring writers can do is just read.

8. If you’re bored, it’s your own darn fault!

My absolute greatest pet peeve is being somewhere (e.g., waiting in line, to meet a friend, etc.), WITHOUT a book. Arrg! Fortunately, I usually have a hardback along for the ride, a little dog-eared paperback or, worst case, my iPhone or iPad with Kindle on it. (LOL, I’m like an addict with drugs hidden in secret places in my coat; he he).


7. Books tell us that stories, if they’re really great, can spread like Kudzu all over the world.

Oh, what a feeling. Us writers don’t know if we’ll get to experience it in our lives, but when I find myself complaining about how difficult it is being a writer, I think about those who have made it. Then I think to myself, “I have no right to complain; all the great writers made it, despite all this.”

Along the kudzu path

6. No matter how dark we can feel at times, remember that we’re never alone.

Someone’s thoughts, feelings, adventures, even words of hope and encouragement, are just a book away. Reach for them.

5. Words aren’t just magical and beautiful; they prove the existence of a world beyond this one.

Where do words come from, after all? You can’t destroy them. Sure, you could burn books, but not their corresponding ideas.

Another one of my favorite book memories is from Ray Bradbury’s, FAHRENHEIT 451, towards the end, where the protagonist meets other interesting characters who have left the city. Surrounding a small fire to keep warm, they share the books they have memorized in order that they will survive. If you think about it, we’re all walking libraries.


4. We get to choose the world we live in.

This reminds me of one of my favorite movie lines from Contact (1997) when Jodie Foster’s character, Dr. Arroway, after losing the seat to go up in the first alien-made rocket, is told by seat winner, David Drumlin, “I wish we lived in a world where the kind of idealism you showed is rewarded.” She responds, “Funny, I always thought the world is what we make it.”

Okay, so we have to pay taxes and follow laws, mores, and customs, etc., but the world we choose to live in in our spare time, to strive for, is our choice alone. Every book has a world to live in. I think the great ones always keep us as lifelong guests.

Very Large Radio Satellite Dishes

3. We never have to be without passion.

Whether your passion is to write a great book, or to read your greatest yet, it is out there … waiting for you. I can think of so many days that I have felt unsure about this crazy life and my place in it. But no matter what, the passion of writing a great book illuminates me like a ray of river moonlight on an unusually warm October night.


2. We all have countless grandparents in books.

I never met my grandfather; he died before I was even born. But through books, I’ve realized that everything that has been thought, felt, discovered, dreamed, is all in books for us to inherit. Books construct the greatest will ever left.


1. If you don’t have enough positive memories, you can find them in books.

Have you ever confused a non-book memory with a book memory? Isn’t that fantastic? I believe it’s because books come from life, so why shouldn’t it work conversely? My favorite book memory (so hard to choose!) is from THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, in the end, when they all decide, no matter what their ensuing lives bring, they will always hold that moment as a reminder of hope. I picture my family and best friends all standing around a fire and me saying this.

Stormy sky over flooded lighthouse

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you’ll consider checking out what I feel is my best novel to date, a world I think myself and many others still live in, PELICAN BAY.

See you next Friday!

Yours in literature,


4 thoughts on “The 10 Greatest Things I’ve Learned from Books

  1. sueannsipin February 6, 2015 / 8:27 pm

    Great view Jesse on the 10 best things you learned from books! I hope all is going well for you! Love you, SueAnn

  2. cathyastolfo February 28, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    I love the way you phrase these truths, the beauty in the words you use, the wisdom imbedded. Thank you.

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