Henry Ward Beecher said, “Books are the windows through which the soul looks out”. I have always found that statement quite thought-provoking and curious. It always made me wonder as to what the soul does when we aren’t reading books. What is a soul anyway? This is not the first time anyone has heard this question. The funniest and the most common answer for this question, however, was given by Brendan Fraser in his movie ‘Bedazzled’.
Our souls are imprints of ourselves. The true image of our mind. It reflects our actions, our thoughts, our inner desires. The more happy and beautiful and selfless our minds are, the more radiant our souls. Atleast that’s what I think. I might be wrong.
So. When do souls look out?
It can be rephrased to – When do our minds look out? When does our mind crave a change of view? I think it is when our minds tackle problems that are unfamiliar that it looks out for inspiration (or rather hope). Our souls look our through the windows to find a fresh outlook. A new perspective. Maybe even a tiny sliver of hope when everything around is failing.
At times like these, there is no better companion than a good book. Books have the unique ability to transport us into new dimensions, show us how people live in faraway lands, how people tackle the problems they face, how people come out of tragedies and conundrums as better versions of themselves.
But…this is not the case all the time. At times, there is just no book that can tell us how to face a certain challenge. And this happens more often than not. The reason….authors don’t want to write about controversial topics like feelings, depression, heartbreak, anger, addiction, recovery or hatred. Authors nowadays want to reach a wide variety of audience and have their books go down in history for being accessible and relatable to a majority of the population. Writing about controversial topics and feelings do not exactly have the same effect. Books on feelings or addictions or depression have niche audiences. Not everyone would pick one of these books from a bookstore for reasons like embarrassment or doubt.
For instance, one of the best books (self-help or otherwise) that I have read and cherished for a long time is a book by Andrew Carnegie called ‘How to win friends and influence people’. As I am a bookworm from a very early age, I read this book when I was in high school. I still remember the look people gave me when they saw the cover of the book I was reading. The ones who didn’t know the author or the quality of the content had expressions of pity, empathy, sorry all rolled into one. And I have heard from many fellows readers that people like pulling our legs when they learn that we have a self-help book in our hands.
I for one have great respect for people who read self-help books. Shows me that they are committed to change for the better. Shows me that they are not afraid to look for help. People turn to other sources like friends, influencers, books when they need help getting through something they are not familiar with. When they need something that they couldn’t find within themselves. So far, I have seen a very little number of books that touch topics like depression, failure in relationships, failure in career and similar topics that actually have any helpful advice or roadmap. Sure…these are topics that do not warrant or have a certain fixed roadmap but multiple roadmaps and solutions that have worked for different people in different situations are better than no roadmap at all. I do wish that more authors explore these topics in mainstream books and novels.
Because there is an audience. And a very big one too.
The rise of Quora in the modern digital age is no small feat. It is one perfect example of supplying a demand. There have always been people with questions and there have always been people with answers for those questions. And a lot of times, people who have the answers prefer to answer anonymously because the answer might be related to an instance of their lives that they don’t want to acknowledge privately. A majority of people use Quora to gain answers for getting through tough times or making decisions that can change a life. Another thing that can be taken from the Quora case, is that people love to share stories. Everyone is trying to help others to not make the same mistakes that they did.
So if mainstream authors came up with quality content exploring topics that haven’t been explored before or those that have been considered controversial, there is an audience.
Mainstream authors, however, are more interested in the commercial appeal of their work nowadays. With books of subpar storylines and extremely far-fetched romances or family drama topping bestseller lists worldwide and making deals to have their movies made, authors have made the choice to keep churning out content with unfathomable amounts of cheesiness. It has come to a point that it seems the goal of these so-called celebrity authors is to design every teenager’s daydreams come true. And the weapons they command for this battle: Swoon inducing encounters between a boy and a girl, cheezy dialogues, and overusing serendipity to the point of disgust.
And so if more mainstream authors and books explore topics like fighting depression or getting out of a toxic life cycle or making better career decisions or getting rid of an addiction or even getting back from a breakup, I think books will make a meaningful and significant comeback into the daily routine of people. People will rely more on the written word of authors than fake news, gossips and pseudo-happiness provided by social networks and fake news.