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I read a book once. I'll never forget it: Page after page of clean black type on crisp white paper. A handsome, sturdy binding. Words, sentences, paragraphs — this one had it all.

And while I may not be able to remember its title, I can tell you that this book changed my life. There was really no way to drive a car, scrawl graffiti or even work on a computer while reading it.

For years now, I have wondered just how many others have had this same powerful experience. The answer can be found in this week's cover package. Here you'll find prominent members of our community ruminating upon their own life-changing literary inspirations.

As different as these political and cultural ambassadors may appear on the surface, they, too, have vivid remembrances of the books that helped shape their lives. Sure, their stories may not be as universal as mine, but they are no less inspiring.

And so, with August bringing us to the midpoint between National Book Month and National Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month (they're just two months away in either direction), let us each take a moment to celebrate the rich contributions that these repositories of knowledge, wisdom and inspiration have brought to our lives.

I, for one, plan to read another one soon.

— Bill Forman

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