Recently, while at a meeting in someone’s home, one of the women present pointed at a bookshelf nearby and smiled at me. At first, I wondered what she was doing—I couldn’t see anything there that stood out to me.
‘Look, Jo-Anne—there are two of your books! I’ve got them at home too.’
I looked again then and finally saw my first two novels at one end of the shelf. Then someone else chimed in.
‘I have all of your books lined up in my bookcase,’ another commented, much to my embarrassment.
‘I have too, another person added. ‘See—you’re famous!’
I laughed and the conversation soon changed direction. But later, as I reflected on what had been said, I felt so thankful and humbled. How blessed am I to have had seven books published at this stage of my life—and what a privilege to have been able to enrich the lives of others even in some small way through what I have written! No, my books may not have been classics or best sellers or winners of great awards. But at least some people have been blessed through reading them and still treasure my books on their shelves.
Recently, I have been thinking about the treasures books in general are to us, as I have been asked to speak somewhere on that topic later in the year. So far, I have come up with the following ideas—and please feel free to share any of your own with me! Books enlarge our knowledge and understanding of the world around us, giving us insights into the way others live their lives and how the world functions in general. Books enable us to take in the wisdom of past generations and to experience situations way beyond our own space and time. Books give us the opportunity to walk in another’s shoes and hopefully develop greater understanding of and empathy for others. Books may help us understand spiritual things better too and be drawn closer to God in the process. And books may comfort or encourage us as we relate closely to what we read and realise we are not alone. Someone else out there understands where we are at and their voice reaches out to us through those words they have written.
On a somewhat more mundane level, books increase our vocabulary and our ability to communicate well via the written word. Books entertain us, perhaps even providing a way to rest or relax and escape for a while into another whole world. On the other hand, books can keep our minds alert, intriguing us with tricky plot twists or challenging us with new and deep thoughts that cause us to grow and become better people in some way.
Books can contain so many rich treasures, waiting for us to discover—precious and semi-precious gems of infinite variety and value. What a privilege as writers to be able to add our own unique creations to this literary treasure trove and to be given the opportunity to touch someone else’s life through our words, be they many or few. May we never take our writing for granted but stay close to God each day, receiving that true inspiration we all need as we apply ourselves to those works in progress.
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney, Australia. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.