A Transformational Read: A Place To Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca

Reading online is one thing but reading a book is quite another. In order to read a book one has to slow down and take a break from the normal chaos that is our modern lives. No matter which method you choose, reading can be a step towards Healthy Living in the middle of chaos if you allow it to be. Many of you may notice I chose the word Reverie to describe my thoughts about this book. I did so because reverie seems to describe a deeper connection between reader and author.

I love a great read and if you are a book-lover I know you do too. I recently read A Place To Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca. For those of you who own it, I imagine you are searching for your copy right now anticipating a revisit to this fantastic read. For everyone else, continue on and discover what is so unique about this memoir.

I confess, I bought my copy of A Place To Stand from Amazon. When the box arrived with its little smiley face logo I felt a sense of anticipation. I was not disappointed. I sliced ​​open the box & the plastic shrink wrap and lifted the book out. The matte finished cover felt a little rough and was designed with an interesting sepia look to it. (I am partial to matte finishes on book covers so this boded well.) Leaning against the island in the kitchen, I thumbed through the introduction pages. Intrigued by the intro, I ventured into the first chapter and was hooked.

Baca leads readers into his memories through an experience that happened when he was very small, 5 years old. This sets the stage for understanding what and where Baca's foundation comes from regarding later situations in life; especially his troubled and tumultuous teen years leading into early adulthood. To have jumped directly into his prison experience would have led readers to believe the story was 'just another prison story'. Instead, this early foundation is brilliantly juxtaposed with a life-altering choice Baca makes later on in prison; to teach himself to read and write while in solitary confinement. Beyond being an extra feat in itself; learning to read and write literally saves his life. Subsequently, Baca forms a new foundation of beliefs and values ​​on which to stand and thus basing his life choices from.

It was a book that I could not put down. Without taking my eyes from the page, I moved to the sofa and kept reading through the afternoon and then the evening. By early morning the next day, I had digested Baca's parting words and reluctantly closed the back cover. But the words and the message stuck with me.

Over the following weeks my mind went back over some of the paths and I realized the awful impact books, reading and writing had on my own life and early childhood situations (I started reading when I was 4). To say that I resonated with Baca's story because of events that happened early in my life is cliche 'so I will not draw that conclusion. Rather, this story touched me because because I recognized the brick layer within. We all have the capacity to be a brick layer no matter what happens in our lives. As brick layers, we choose what foundation to stand on and sometimes its up to us to lay a new, or re-lay an existing, foundation.

As for Baca, he was released from prison in 1979 and went on to become one of the most revered modern poets of our time. You can read more about his poetry, writing and community service work on his official website .

Read more about Healthy Living and TransFormation .