I have been captivated the last week or so reading the letters from noteworthy people to readers of the future while looking at the illustrations by artists inspired by the letters. That is the Velocity of Being project. Future readers hear from all kinds of people about the importance of books and reading in their life. After reading many of the letters felt like I was being thrown a lifesaver just as I was drowning from (choose one or more): politics, state of our environment, pandemics, racism, etc. Instead of reviewing this collection, let me share with you a few snippets of several of the letters and encourage you to get this book to find treasures for yourself in it.
Note: the photo collages below show nine of the illustrations that accompanied the letters. I didn't "shop" for my favorites. I just snapped nine random photos, trying to capture a representative sample.
"Somewhere, there is a book written just for you. It will fit your mind like a glove fits your hand. And it's waiting. Go and look for it." -Neil Gaiman
"We wouldn't need need books quite so much if everyone around us understood us well. But they don't. Even those who love us get us wrong. They tell us who we are but miss things out. They claim to know what we need, but forget to ask us properly first. They can't understand what we feel--and sometimes, we're unable to tell them, because we don't really understand it ourselves. That's where books come in."-Alain de Botton
"Reading opens up worlds inside your head, worlds you can explore, play with roam around in. Worlds that are in you and become part of you. When you read, you become bigger." -Martha Nussbaum
"I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish I were in your shoes now, I wish I were standing where you are standing now...to be at the beginning as you are now, so that I could read them [my books] all again for the very first time." -David Whyte
"Books aren't just a door to another world--each book is part of a door to the whole world, a door that always has more behind it. Which is why I still can't think of anything I'd rather do more than read." -Alexander Chee
"Books saved my life...Books made me feel less ashamed. Less weird. Less different. They connected me deeply to my own humanity." -Dani Shapiro
"Reading is for the brave among us. It teaches us how to love people we don't know and will probably never meet. It teaches us that we too deserve that same sort of love. That faith is, in fact, the work of being a fully realized person." -Thomas Page McBee
"Every reader should behave like a book, pushing others toward growth, aiming to deepen the most enduring relationship: the one we have with ourselves." -Amanda Stern
From the shelf in a small voice,
Reader, into the tiniest
Shell of your innermost ear
So quiet you might mistake it
"I want to tell you why books are magic and how words have power. So, there's a little girl, who lives in a house where there is a lot of anger and sadness. Maybe, she feels alone like no one understands her heart and the way its hurting. Each day she goes to school, comes back home, and does her homework. She sits with her mami who reads her stories of a funny maid who just can't get things right but bakes delicious pies and tarts. The little girl laughs and asks her mami to read it again.There it is. Did you catch it? That moment where words and books changed her life? Where a book had the power to transport her to a place where her heart did not hurt?" -Isabel Quintero
"If you love to read, or learn to love reading, you will have an amazing life." -Anne Lamott
I could go on. There are over 100 letters and illustrations. I liked some part of each of them and could fill up a book's worth of quotes to share with you, but I will stop here. You get the point.
Each of the quotes I did provide spoke to my heart in some way or another. Books on the shelf are calling out to me to be read or re-read. Sometimes I listen and other times I ignore their pleas. My grandson, who is three, loves to run around and is very active. Yet, if I pull out a book, he can settle right down and snuggle in, allowing him to calm down. His parents have learned to use books to help teach him concepts like 'not hitting', adjusting to a new sibling, and being kind to animals. Books themselves can have magical healing qualities. I used to tell my high school students that one of the things I like about self-help books is that the books themselves don't care if you follow their advice. This is, therefore, very freeing: take it or leave it, the book's feelings won't be hurt like a humans would be.
Reading and books have the power to change a life for the better. They can transport us to places and time periods we've never been. We can learn about cultures and people we have never encountered before. We can laugh and empathize, gain understanding and/or participate in magic. All of the letters were written by adults, several by adults at or near the end of their life, yet all of them continue to adore books and wish everyone could lead the life they lived through the magic of the written word.