Read about Someone Else’s Life . . . It Might Change Your Own

Written on by Kathryn Lerro

The day the library was closing due to COVID-19, I made a mad dash to grab a few books before they locked the door.

I love to read, and the idea of being book-less for who-knows-how-long was not a happy one. I like to read devotional material in the morning, and most of that reading is online, so that wasn’t going to be a problem. But in the afternoon and at bedtime I like to read novels—actual hardbound ones, so I was glad I got to the library before it was too late. Fortunately, one of the books I borrowed was by an author I hadn’t read before, and the book was very good. So when I was getting low on library books, I found several more of this author’s books, used, on eBay for just a few dollars each. Several weeks later, I bought a few more. But her themes were beginning to stray into the supernatural, which isn’t my cup of tea, and I couldn’t find any books by my other favorite authors which I hadn’t already read. I was feeling panicky. I know that sounds dramatic, but the relief these stories was providing from the stresses of 2020 was profound.

By this point, COVID restrictions were easing up, more stores were reopening, and it occurred to me that a thrift store would be a good place to find books at a reasonable price. And I was right; I walked out of my local Goodwill with enough books to last me a few more weeks—for under 5 dollars!

But the storylines of all these novels were beginning to run together. I was getting bored. And right then I stumbled across several online articles that spoke of the value found in reading biographies. They indicated that reading the life stories of other people allows us to learn from their mistakes, be inspired by their successes, give ourselves grace as we see that they, too, have made mistakes (sometimes HUGE mistakes!), and shake off self-pity as we read about the challenges and tragedies these people have had to overcome.

On my next book run to Goodwill I found the autobiography of Shania Twain. I’ve always liked her music, and I’d heard she grew up in extreme poverty, and had some very bad things happen to her. I heard she made some selfless choices, and delayed her career because her family needed her. She sounded like a pretty great person. If I was going to begin reading biographies, hers seemed like an interesting place to start.

And I was right; her story is riveting. Reading about her resilience, drive, perspective and—perhaps most important—her commitment to forgive . . . to not blame others, is making me feel so good about life . . . even with all the added stresses this year has delivered.

This quote seems to sum up the theme of her book:

“When everything goes without a hitch, where’s the challenge, the opportunity to find out what you’re made of?” – Shania Twain

During a time of unprecedented challenges, when we are all discovering what we’re actually made of, this has turned out to be the perfect book to read—I’m so glad I’m only halfway through!

If you’d like to see for yourself how reading someone else’s life story can enrich your own, but you’d like to start small, why not check out the following Overcomers stories from the Voice and Vision archives. They are short stories of real people who’ve made the best of some scary challenges, have refused to give up, and have stayed positive. I think you’ll find them inspiring.


A Peek inside a Life with Autism:  https://voiceandvisioninc.org/blog/entry/overcomers-a-life-with-autism/

An Artist Triumphs over Tourette’s and OCD:  https://voiceandvisioninc.org/blog/entry/overcomers-an-artist-triumphs-over-tourette-s-and-ocd/

Finding a Way through the Darkness (overcoming in spite of schizophrenia): https://voiceandvisioninc.org/blog/entry/overcomers-finding-a-way-through-the-darkness/

Living (Joyfully!) with Multiple Sclerosis:  https://voiceandvisioninc.org/blog/entry/overcomers-living-joyfully-with-multiple-sclerosis/

Parenting Multiple Children with Special Needs:  https://voiceandvisioninc.org/blog/entry/overcomers-parenting-multiple-children-with-special-needs/

Escaping Generational Poverty:  https://voiceandvisioninc.org/blog/entry/interviews-with-overcomers-escaping-generational-poverty/

Parenting a Child with Asperger’s:  https://voiceandvisioninc.org/blog/entry/overcomers-stories-of-real-people-coping-with-real-challenges/


Photo by Daria Shevtsova via Pexels

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