The vocabulary we know frames our thoughts and our thoughts frame and inspire everything else we do. That ties in with this week's blog prompt: "How books can influence daily life."
Where would the world be without the philosophical inquiries of Plato and the nihilist philosophies of Freidrich Nietzche? Without the mind-breaking insight of Charles Darwin or W. Edwards Demming? Without Mein Kampf and the Magna Carta? In some instances, the world might be a much better place; in others, not so much. These types of books affect daily life, from the subjects taught in schools to how we treat others to the practices that keep business humming.
Because words frame what we think and, therefore, what we do, literature truly occupies a place of critical importance in human life. Even if one cannot read, one hears stories. The ancient oral traditions lasted centuries, perhaps millennia, before someone had the bright idea, the skill, and the supply of parchment and ink to write them down for lasting posterity. In the greater scheme of things, yes, books really do influence our daily lives in profound ways.
However, we don't always recognize that effect, because it's so ingrained into what we believe, what we think, and how we act. The devout may refer daily to their religious scriptures, a conscious effort that they use to maintain a desired level of spirituality. Newspapers, especially for those who live in regions prone to harsh winter weather, affect daily lives in a more direct way--or they did before everyone started checking their cell phones for weather information. I remember checking the paper each morning to see what adjustments I'd have to make according to the predicted weather.
Perhaps we're looking for something a little more intimate than deciding whether the weather forecast means we ought to bring an umbrella to work or throw snow chains in the car. The prompt specifically refers to books. The words "daily life" bring to mind the little things we do, the mundane. Books influence major life decisions. I knew a woman who read a book that convinced her to divorce her husband. Cookbooks influence what you might make for dinner, perhaps coq a vin instead of chicken cacciatore. Their mundane influence goes deep into our lives.
I wouldn't have latched onto the admittedly arbitrary preference for Morgan horses if it weren't for Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (My second favorite breed is Arabian, influenced--of course--by Marguerite Henry's King of the Wind.)
Fairy tales and Greek and Nordic mythology can be held responsible for my enduring fascination with otherworldly creatures, magic, and high adventure.
Books, especially those in the fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and romance genres, feed my imagination and inspire me to make writing a viable career option.
My mother introduced me to literature, from Sydney Taylor's stories about a working class Jewish family in the early 20th century to, yes, the frontier stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder and John D. Fitzgerald to the improbably perfect heroines of Barbara Cartland's historical romances to the cut-glass mysteries of Dick Francis. Her influence led me to a lifetime of reading that framed my oftentimes subversive thinking and, yes, led to some occasionally weird and inexplicable decisions and actions.
Did the devil make me do it? Or was it Mom all along?
Perhaps Freud was right: everything can be blamed upon one's mother. Boy, have I got a lot to answer for.