Books Can Save a Life

 

“When you’re in a place that is not your own among people not like you, your first impulse has to be respect. Even if you don’t understand, you have to show respect for what is technically called another epistemology, another way of knowing the world.”Barry Lopez

After nearly eight years of blogging at Books Can Save a Life, I’ll be taking a break to work on other writing projects and bookish activities. I’ll be back from time to time, though, when extraordinary books and literary happenings come along.

When I started Books Can Save a Life, I was thinking primarily about books saving lives personally and individually. Over the years, my reading has come to include books that I believe save lives in a much broader sense. Books have always been a way for me to understand the world, and I believe books can help us save value systems, democracies, species, and perhaps even humanity.

Bill McKibben, Barry Lopez, Richard Powers, Kim Stafford, Barbara Kingsolver, Terry Tempest Williams, Kathleen Dean Moore, and Mary Oliver are among the writers I’ve come to trust deeply. In his newest book, Falter, McKibben says we may have begun humanity’s endgame because of climate change, staggering inequality, and artificial intelligence. (Google has just announced it has achieved “quantum supremacy,” whatever that means.)

We don’t really know, of course. Barry Lopez recently said there is no place for despair and pessimism if we are to have the energy and wisdom for a massive course correction:

“The whole thing is on the line now. The entire meaning of the evolution of homo sapiens. We either show that our power of invention is tremendous or we show that the development of the imagination in the hominid line was maladaptive.” 

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“The whole book is about arriving at a position of impassioned embrace of all human beings.” – Barry Lopez

Barry’s latest book, Horizon, a culmination of his life as a world traveller and seeker, is a handful at over 500 pages. If you don’t want to take on the book, I encourage you to listen to this 15-minute interview with Lopez at Public Radio International’s Living on Earth. It is filled with transcendent words of wisdom I wish everyone could hear.

All of us can work toward a more humanitarian culture and learn to take better better care of the earth. We’ve reached an inflection point in human history, and it’s our destiny to do the important work we’re each called to do. Reading can fortify us.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my reading journey with you.

“You can call it global climate change, you can call it the disintegration of democratic forms of government….the need to attack this issue, to me, is like one of the great voyages that we now have to choose to make, to move into unknown territory, into uncharted lands….My hope is that people will say, ‘We’re in trouble. What is going to be the vessel on which we sail?’  And, maybe more importantly, ‘Who is going to be the navigator?'” Barry Lopez

 

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Oregon coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 responses

  1. I don’t think I realized how nature/ecologically oriented you are. I commend you for your passion. I am not optimistic about us turning things around and frankly become depressed over the failing leadership in the American Administration at the moment.

    But I wish you very well in your new projects!

  2. I totally understand the need to step back from blogging for a while, or at least slow down–i’ve been doing that myself. But for totally selfish reasons I hope you you do continue sharing your reading and wisdom with us, I always am inspired when I visit here.

    the future does take on a dim cast, what with the attack on democracy and the lack of urgency when it comes to turning the tide of global warming. When Obama was in office I saw it as a sign that we were headed toward brighter days, a turning tide toward good, that long slow arch toward justice. But with Trump it seems the tide is turning the other way. And I wonder if it is just a matter of perspective. Whether we are viewing things from the top of the wave, or in its narrows, the sea just keeps on being the sea, continuous in its turning, and some greater hand than ours holds us all in its balance.

    • Thanks, Deborah, these are wise and beautiful words. I appreciate that you’ve been a faithful follower – of course, I’ve loved your blog for years and will continue to follow you. I think Lopez and others are ultimately hopeful, and that is good! I’ll be back from time to time!

  3. I totally understand the need to step back from blogging for a while, or at least slow down–i’ve been doing that myself. But for totally selfish reasons I hope you you do continue sharing your reading and wisdom with us, I always am inspired when I visit here.

    the future does take on a dim cast, what with the attack on democracy and the lack of urgency when it comes to turning the tide of global warming. When Obama was in office I saw it as a sign that we were headed toward brighter days, a turning tide toward good, that long slow arch toward justice. But with Trump it seems the tide is turning the other way. And I wonder if it is just a matter of perspective. Whether we are viewing things from the top of the wave, or in its narrows, the sea just keeps on being the sea, continuous in its turning, and some greater hand than ours holds us all in its balance.

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