One Small Change: One Page at a Time

I feel lucky to have found the lovely Anne Bogel in the internet world. She’s a great writer and her reading tastes are absolutely impeccable. (I don’t know how she reads as much as she does. I always come away from her online space with more books piled onto my list-of-things-I’ll-never-have-time-to-read.) This fall, I had the chance to meet her at a conference, and she’s just as lovely in person as she is online. So glad to have her here today!


I quit watching the news a long time ago. I don’t read much coverage these days, either. I’m not proud of this, but this healthy boundary prevents my over-empathizing self from falling apart after the top-of-the-hour news reports or a half hour with the Sunday paper.

But I recognize it is patently unfair to shut out the sorrows of the world because I can. 

And so I choose to enter in, through the written word, because though the news buries me with everything that’s going wrong in this world, a book opens the window to another.

This isn’t just a bookworm’s pipe dream: good books have a magic about them. The written word changes hearts and minds; it builds empathy and inspires action.

Reading the stories of those suffering–near and far–allows me to travel to places I don’t understand but want to, though they make me shudder. Through books, I am able to clearly see the plight of my neighbor, and my role in it. The rare book even allows me to see what I can begin to do about it.

If you’re unsure where to begin, might I recommend Half the Sky?

I’m sure you’ve read (or heard on the news?) the staggering statistics about the plight of women and girls in the developing world. The overwhelming numbers seem to insist that we’re tangled up in the fallen systems of a fallen world, and that it’s impossible to do anything that would even begin to help, at least not from where I sit.

Yet in this impressive (and heart-stopping) piece of journalism, Pulitzer winners Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn tread lightly over the numbers, focusing instead on personal stories of individual women, and on concrete actions we can take to disrupt the system that traps them.

The numbers may be overwhelming, but these individual women’s stories, though tragic, are not. I know that I can’t stop the sex trade, but I can help one woman. The problem, while vast, no longer seems unbeatable. In the tangled mess of our broken systems, I can see the end of the rope–and I see what I can do to make a difference.

What does it look like for someone’s heart to change? I think sometimes, it looks like someone curled up in a chair with their Kindle and a cup of coffee.

Books change people, and by changing people, they change the world–one page at a time.


Because I trust Anne’s book recommendations implicitly, I asked her to recommend a few more books that have changed her worldview in some way — in addition to Half the Sky. Here’s her list! 

(These recommendations were compiled from two of Anne’s previous posts: 7 Books That Changed My Life and 5 Books That Make Me Feel Like I’m Not Crazy. Click over to see why she selected these books in particular!)


anne bogel

Anne Bogel loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She puts a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy.

Connect with her on Facebook or on Twitter!

13 thoughts on “One Small Change: One Page at a Time

  1. Reading “Half the Sky” really did change my life. It opened my eyes to what girls and women go through, and I knew I had to do something. It was incredibly hard to get through, but so worth it. Another great resource is the documentary “Girl Rising.” Incredible stuff.

  2. Books do change people. You know I love and agree, Anne! I haven’t read Half the Sky yet but I did read Half the Church a couple of years ago, which is in a similar vein.

    1. I loved Half the Church. And yeah, she explicitly modeled it after Half the Sky–definitely in a similar vein!

  3. I don’t think its not fair to shut out the news. They are there to sell and tragedy and sensationalist things sell. The only thing we gain from the news is the traffic and the weather.

  4. Books – yes!
    In our house, we recently started a homework club for some 7th graders. Up to 4 nights a week we’ll have up to 4 students showing up as early as 5:30 and leaving as late as 9:00. Our own children are grown, but my wife has a passion for these kids from the school where she works.

  5. I LOVE this.Sometimes the problems of the world are simply overwhelming, but a good book, well-written, can not only point us to small things we can create to help make changes to the systemic evils of our age, but it can also create space for hope to land, with its feathers ruffling in the wind. Just lovely. Thank you.

  6. I can’t do anything about the millions of caves darkening the lives of the depressed, oppressed, abused, lonely, and poor. But I can, and do, enter one cave and sit with a friend in her darkness. I sit in the damp and cold, with her spiders and muck. I hold her hand. I listen.

    I struggle to avoid the temptation to take ownership of her struggle and fix it. I struggle to just show up … and shut up. The showing up is as easy as the shutting up is hard.

    We are to mourn with those who mourn … to enter into their pain and become a partner, arm-in-arm, alongside them. And to rejoice with them, filled with joy, when the time comes to rise and walk out into the light where the Lord has prepared us food for the journey ahead.

    ““What are you doing here, Elijah?” said the Lord, not “What are you doing in there?”

    Count me in on the over-empathizing end of things. I haven’t watched TV since 1998. Not sure I have really missed anything worth spending my time on. Not sure I really want to shed any tears by listening to someone point their fingers at the millions in need. What I am sure of is that each tear shed in relationship with a friend was worth every … single … drop. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything less intimate.

    And maybe that’s a little of what it’s like to become more fully human … or at least be open and vulnerable enough to give it a shot.

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