Thursday, October 25, 2018

Can Books Change Lives?

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

Can books changes lives? We all know the Bible can.

But what about fiction?

Thinking back on my own reading experiences, I would have to say yes. Reading awakens me to the beauty and strength of words and stories. Stories transport me to worlds I never knew and other places I have no way of knowing. They open my eyes to the ways of people of different cultures and time periods. Books fueled a life-long desire to learn. I know I’m a different person because of books. 

The first book I remember reading was The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. Farley’s writing opened my eyes to the world of horses, to life in Arabia, and to the spunk of a boy about my age at the time. I still remember being transported to that place, to that world, and being immersed in it.

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron took the historical facts of the Holocaust and made them real through the characters he brought to life. He humanized that devastating time in ways no history book could. 

Do my own books change lives? I’d like to think so. I hope my books not only entertain, but also encourage people there is always hope, that no matter how difficult life gets, we can get through it with God.

I’ve received letters and comments from readers thanking me for my stories because they show people handling real life struggles and tragedies with God’s help. One reader said he appreciated how my characters had natural and believable relationships with God without my cramming it down the readers’ throats. 

One of my beta readers asked me not to change a scene in my book because it brought her closer to God. In my prayer time later, God revealed to me that, even if my book was never published, it accomplished his purpose because it her closer to him.

What book changed your life? How?

Can books change lives? Henry McLaughlin, @RiverBendSagas on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Writing books can change lives, encouragement from Henry McLaughlin (@RiverBendSagas) on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest.

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.


  1. Thank you for reminding me why I read. It makes my life fuller and takes me places I could never go. I can mourn with Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg and land on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

  2. Absolutely they can Mr. Henry. I can't choose just one book that has changed my life, but I can think of of a compilation of sixty-six books that I keep reading over and over again; learning new things each time. What an encouraging post. Thanks, and God's blessings sir.

  3. I have read to my children as they were growing up, so it was when we were reading to them from Jeri Massi's Derwood Inc. that I'm reading from Jack and Penny's pov, and I thought, well, if Jack and Penny can see this.... Then it came to me (I'm an adult here, duh) this was a story written by an adult for kids and using a kids pov to teach. Wow, yes, books can change lives.They introduce thoughts and ideas, sometimes so subtly we must be careful what we read as well as what we write.

  4. I also read and loved The Black Stallion, and the companion books as well. I grew up, owned a few horses and even ran a horse boarding stable for over 30 years. So... maybe that book influenced my life in a material sort of way.