Book signings are always exciting — especially when a friend is celebrating a newly published work. It’s really rewarding to be able to share in a communal moment when a book is launched into the world. So much goes into the process: research, writing, editing, revisions, copyediting, indexing, and in some cases, notes. Just recently, I had the opportunity to share in one of these special moments with a friend of mine, Bonnie. While my friend Bonnie has many interests, one of her passions for many years has been advancing racial equality.
She and two colleagues had spent almost five years working on an book project focused on an issue that’s very close to their hearts: racial equality. The result is a book called Accountability and White Anti-racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work. The goal of the book was to gather and share the experiences of a wide range of dedicated people of “different voices, different ages, and different geographic areas.” In Bonnie’s view, the authors of the different chapters in the book “showed tremendous courage in revealing not only their best practices, but also their worst practices” — their mistakes and missteps.
When Bonnie and her colleagues finished sharing the story of how their book came to be, a woman in the audience said, “I want to thank you. This book will help me to keep going on what’s often been a lonely road. It’s a blessing to be able to pick it up and read other people’s stories.”
What better reward could any author or editor have than for someone to say that the stories they’ve shared have provided inspiration and support? In one way or another, many of us are traveling lonely roads. Perhaps we struggle with self-confidence, troubling family histories, devastating loss, raising a child with special challenges, or a calling that isn’t understood or acknowledged. At one point in the lovely film Shadowlands, the main character, C.S. Lewis, says, “We read to know we are not alone.” Whatever our road, knowing that we are not alone can make all the difference. That’s one of the many precious gifts that books give us.