Why Books Still Matter

Naturally, as a book publisher, you would expect me to believe in the value of reading. But it is more than that. In fact, I got into book publishing because I was so committed to books as a tool for personal and cultural transformation.

A few months ago at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Ben Carson, world-renowned Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. Not bad for a child that was raised in extreme poverty by a single mother. Statistically speaking, he didn’t have a chance.

As a grade school student, he experienced difficulty academically, eventually falling to the bottom of his class. His mother, who was working two to three jobs, became alarmed. She did not want her two sons to drop out of school, believing that education was the only way they would escape a life of poverty.

She began to notice that the wealthy families she worked for watched little television. Instead, they spent their time reading books. As a result, she sold her television and insisted her sons read two library books a week, writing a book report on each one. She would then review the reports, make marks on them, and assign two more books. Several years later, to his surprise, Dr. Carson discovered that his mother couldn’t even read.

In the interview, Dr. Carson said to me, “Everything changed when I began to read. I started to see myself as a smart person who could learn anything. The whole world opened up to me.”

Indeed it did. This is the power of reading books.

Contrary to what is often reported in the mainstream media, books are not dead. They are still valuable today. But we must contend for their existence against all other forms of media. Books do for people what movies, television, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and social media will never do—fundamentally alter their worldview and inspire them to greatness.

I rarely meet a person who says, “that movie changed my life.” Or, “your blog post transformed me.” I’m not diminishing either of these. Both of their place in inspiring, educating, and entertaining others.

But there is just something about a book that changes everything. I have met thousands of people through the years who have reported, “That book changed my life.” I can certainly point to the books that have shaped my own life. In fact, we can point to specific books throughout history that have changed entire civilizations.

Watch my interview with Dr. Carson and see for yourself how books made a difference in his life. I hope this video once again inspire you to the potential and power of long-form reading. There is a lot at stake.

By the way, if you haven’t made plans to participate in this year’s Chick-fil-A Leadercast, you need to give it serious consideration. I will be once again hosting the backstage interviews with people like John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Sir Ken Robinson, Mack Brown, Robin Roberts, Muhtar Kent, and Dave Ramsey. You can either attend in person in Atlanta or host a simulcast of the event at your business or church.

Question: How have books transformed your life? What books in particular have made a difference?

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