A Mind Needs Books as a Sword Needs a Whetstone

Dalton Elwood

“My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer and I have my mind…and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That’s why I read so much Jon Snow.” This quote, spoken by Tyrion Lannister within George R.R. Martin’s brilliant, high-fantasy world of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series (which would later be adapted into the world-renowned television show Game of Thrones), is truly brilliant. It perfectly encompasses what this book series meant to me and how it, undoubtedly, propelled my life and helped form many of my greatest passions.

Seeing as the success of the tv show far outstrips the success of the book series, it would be rather easy for someone to not even know said book series exists in the first place. At the time in which the show was first gaining popularity, this was the case for me as well. When the show first aired in April of 2011, I was only ten years old. At that point in my life, the closest thing to high-fantasy I had ever read was the Harry Potter series (which I will promptly stop talking about, or else this blog might never end). I didn’t know it at the time, but that show (something my parents wouldn’t let me anywhere near lest I planned on being grounded for eternity) and its unprecedented popularity would change my life forever.   

It would be another 5 or so years before I would even learn of A Song of Ice and Fire’s existence. At this point in my life (my freshman year of high school), I had gone from a child obsessed with books, someone who read during class (to the chagrin of my teachers) and made sure to be at the top of every reading competition, to someone who simply didn’t make time for it anymore. I was involved with many things at school: sports, drama, speech, and a plethora of other clubs. When I wasn’t at school, I was either at my friends’ houses or, better yet, talking to them over my wireless headset whilst shooting computer generated bad guys on my television screen. Nonetheless, no matter what it is that I was doing, it was certainly never reading.

It was around this time that one of my best friends read the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire, titled A Game of Thrones (I can see why the show is named after this book instead of the series… much catchier). He wouldn’t stop raving about it. He would bring it to class and read it whenever he got the chance. As someone who used to get like this about many books, I absolutely knew how he felt and, to be honest, it made me start to miss it. However, after looking at the thousand-page book with the (I kid you not) smallest text known to human-kind, I convinced myself that I didn’t have the patience or time.

A year later, at the beginning of spring break during my sophomore year, my family was about to leave on a trip to Florida. My mom had me completely sold on the prospect of going out on the beach every day, relaxing in the hot sun with a book in my hands. Because of her, I made a trip to Barnes and Noble (the best store in the world… I will hear no arguments against it) to see what I could find to bring along. Somehow, I found my way over to the fantasy section, where I laid eyes on the very version of A Game of Thrones my friend owned. I opened to the first page, and was instantly hooked.

A thousand pages and one incredible book later, and I had managed to find my love for reading that had been missing for multiple years. Not only did I start to want to consume as much literature as I could, but I found that I wanted to be just like George R.R. Martin too. I had always known I had a love for writing tucked away within me. As an elementary student, I carried a yellow notebook around that I would pull out in my free time and write random short stories in my atrocious handwriting. Much like reading, I hadn’t done any writing in years, and this book brought this out in me again.

Years after reading this book, I sit in my tiny apartment writing this as an English and creative writing major. I have three massive bookshelves at home, filled with books that I take more pride in than anything I own. I write stories in my free time, hoping to one day pursue my dreams of writing novels. I never thought a single book could change someone’s life, until that very thing happened to me.

Author Bio:

Dalton is a student from the small town of Mount Ayr, Iowa. He is majoring in English and Creative Writing, with a minor in Business, as well as being on the Pre-Law track. In his free time, Dalton enjoys lifting, watching and playing sports, video games, and a variety of other things that aren’t doing his homework.


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