As you will soon read in my book, there are people you will meet in your life who will serve as your mentors and change your life forever. There are also people who will do this that you will never meet - they are called non-fiction authors. If you want to be successful in your life then you must get into the habit of reading beyond what is required in your coursework. Listen to audio books in the car. Download them on your kindle or nook. Check them out for free at the library. Find whatever works for you – and read.
The authors I’ve "met" in non-fiction books have changed my life for the better. I am grateful to so many of them, and I want you to share in that same growth and discovery and success that comes from reading.
Thus, to help get you started I am going to start sharing with you some of the most life-changing books I have come across thus far in my life.
The first book I want to share with you is the NY Times Bestseller The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.
In short, this book helped me better understand both the world that we live in and helped me understand a world I’ve never known. The first world is the one where the environment you are born into and the daily choices you make can chain you to a life you would never have chosen if you had really known you had a choice. And the second is a world of drugs and violence that I’d only seen in movies and heard about in rap songs. This book elucidates these two worlds from the very real lives of two men, both named Wes Moore. Both men grew up in Baltimore, MD. One Wes Moore wrote this book, is a Rhodes Scholar, and an absolutely incredibly successful man and role model. The other is serving a life sentence in jail.
The book’s tagline says it best: “One name, two fates. The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”
Books like this could never be fully captured in a review, so I highly recommend you buy it and read it as soon as possible. For me, the best memoirs are the ones that make me forget it’s a memoir. They make me feel like I’m reading the most vibrant, literary, exciting, terrifying, chilling, and intense fiction book and then every few pages or so say to myself wait, this really happened? Whoa. The Other Wes Moore is that kind of book.
It is a story that will have you on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. But what is most important about it, is that it’s a true story. It’s a memoir. It elucidates real life lessons about pain, loss, choices, fate, hope, and the power role models and mentors can have in our lives.
I was deeply and personally impacted by reading this book and I know you will be too because it illuminates realities that are often brushed away in dark corners.
There are a lot of reasons that can be deduced about why these two men who grew up near each other and even had the same name had such different life outcomes. I cannot pretend to know. But what struck me most of all was the people they had in their lives to look up to. What seemed to be the most powerful influencer in their young lives (especially as neither grew up with their father - one passed away, one uninvolved) was their friends and the older men in their lives. Unfortunately, not all of the role models were positive ones.
It really made me think about the people in our lives and what the word "role model" really means. It make me think about how quickly a life can go astray without love and support from someone who believes in them.
The good news is, however, is that it works both ways. Lives can be saved when people are given that love and support in their lives. Too many kids do not have people in their lives who believe in them, and it breaks my heart. That is why this book meant so much to me.
The Other Wes Moore dives into this issue in an important way, and I highly recommend reading it with an open mind, an open heart, and a commitment to do something about the issues it elucidates after you read it. Tell a friend what you think they are capable of. Be a positive role model for someone in your life. And do whatever you can to find positive role models in yours. If you don’t know any right now, I can recommend one. His name is Wes.