It may sound rather silly to say this but, one of the joys of working in a library is that it is filled with great old books! I think sometimes as librarians we forget that. We spend a lot of our time thinking about new books. We read reviews of new books. We order new books. It seems we tend to read a lot of new books when they come out. Sometimes I almost forget that I work in a library that is full of fantastic old books as well.
I had a patron come into the library about a month ago who asked me for some help finding a good biography for a freshman in high school. The light bulb went off in my head and I recommended "The Autobiography of Malcolm X". She thought it was a great recommendation and checked one of our two copies. It hit me that I hadn't read this book in almost 20 years. I decided to check out our other copy to read it again.
I started to read it and remembered immediately why I loved it so much the first several times I read it. It's one of those books that simply tells an amazing story. It reads like fiction but the events are all very true. It's hard to believe that a single individual could have so many things happen in their life. That their life could take so many twists and turns. It also hit me reading it again that as a librarian, and a lover of books, it's hard not to feel a connection to the story. The part of the story when "Red" is in prison and starts to read the dictionary is amazing. I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes. Malcolm learns every word in the dictionary and then starts to read every book he can get his hands on and educates himself while in prison. When his time is done he's a new and changed man.
In many ways "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" is about the ability of individuals to grow and change and people. He goes through so many pivotal events in his life only to learn and grow from each one. He's willing to learn new things and change his opinions based on what he's learned and gone through. This ultimately leads to his death at the hands of the Black Muslims, who he had once been a powerful spokesman for, because he had grown as a person and moved on, denouncing some of their most racist philosophies.
Malcolm X was a man who was often feared by our society at large when he was alive. As the years have gone by and more and more people have studied his life and read this book his legacy has changed. He is now considered by many to be a great American and someone who's contributions to the civil rights movement were extremely important. If you want to read an amazing true story you should also consider checking out one of our copies.