Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | May 31, 2012

Do books impact your behavior?

This article has a lighthearted tone in reporting a new study suggesting readers may change their behavior to emulate characters in books they read.  My first reaction was similar — “Well, duh” — but the more I thought about it, the more I thought about it.  It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg question: do the books we read impact who we are, or does our identity impact our choice of reading material?  Both, naturally; but I find the former much more interesting.

I think of a book that was popular a year or two ago–Chris Cleaves’ Little Bee.  That book overwhelmed me with gratitude for my passport, for my belonging to this country; it changed my patriotism and gave me new insight on immigrants and their struggles.  I have a friend who says that the books she read as a younger person created her expectations and standards of peoples’ behavior and basic worth.

Can you point to specific books in your history that made a striking impact on your behavior and your identity?  Are they books you still hold in your affection and on your shelves, or do you smile gently (or even blush) at your former self’s enthusiasms?  Tell us.

—Mary Beth




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