Readers Write

What Book Has Saved You? Pay It Forward.

by Meagan Frank

This month, we asked our subscribers: Is there a book that saved your marriage, your finances, your kids, your life… What was the book and how did it make a difference for you?

Books saved my marriage. They were my ladder out of a low point and, as I clung to the wise words of people who knew more than I did, I slowly stepped out of darkness and into a new light. The books of others were only part of my rescue. In 2003, I interviewed hundreds of women about their marriages and wrote their intimate stories into a book, Choosing to Grow: Through Marriage. Writing that book saved me, too.

Might there have been other ways to mend the broken places in our marriage? Certainly. It was primarily the books, however, that provided the tools I needed to claw my way out.

As a writer for Books Make a Difference, I’ve seen the saving power of books over and over.

In this issue, writer Sarah Stewart talks about being saved by books in her childhood library. Her husband, artist David Small, talks about healing through the creation of his graphic novel memoir. Deborah Tainsh saved her own heart and those of other Gold Star parents by writing life stories to preserve the memories of her stepson and other military service members who died in service. So many saving stories right here in this issue.

While writing our Readers Write column this month, we received news that artist Lori McElrath-Eslick, the plein air painter featured in our debut issue, is headed to the operating room for a life-saving heart surgery…again.

It is the second time she has been challenged to stay courageous while illustrating for a book about courage. She recognizes she is being asked to walk the talk, and she has requested our help to promote difference-making.

In a letter to close friends and family she writes:

And consider doing (in my honor, if you wish) a pay forward idea, and share with me in an email or a letter…this will be so good to hear from you and what you did!! Be great for my healing heart!!

Lori was changed by her experience illustrating The Good Fire Helmet, and she is using illustration, including painting a cover for the children’s novel Summer of Courage, to move herself through this battle again. We—and so many others—are inspired by her art, her willingness to offer her talents to others, and the way she chooses to live her life every day.

Meaningful experiences exist in writing, illustrating, or reading a book that changes your perspective or helps you to follow a different path. Books can be powerful life-savers, but only if we let them move us into action. So let’s modify the Readers Write question:

Will you accept Lori’s challenge?

Tell us about a pay-it-forward act you offer in Lori’s honor, a kindness shown to you by someone else, or post about a book that has saved you. Your words, your experience, could make a difference for another reader.

Image credit: This sketch of a young boy burrowing himself into his drawing to escape the real world is from David Small’s memoir, Stitches. Read more about how illustrating his memoir became a shadow-removal process for David.

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