As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many of us are still isolating at home, often only leaving for supplies or to go to work. So we’re dedicating this episode of the podcast to the power of books, and how, with a little imagination, they can open doors and transport us to new places.

First, we hear from Olly Neal, a retired judge in Arkansas. Based on his decades-long career, it might come as a surprise to learn that when Olly was growing up, he struggled in school and would sometimes cut class. At StoryCorps, he told his daughter about one of those days, when instead of going to school, Olly wandered into a library and discovered the work of an author who would change his life.

Our next story starts in Washington state during the 1960s. That’s where Storm Reyes grew up with her family, who made their living as migrant farm workers. At StoryCorps, Storm sat down with her son, Jeremy Hagquist, to remember her childhood and a discovery she made that opened up her world.

Next, we’ll hear from Alagappa Rammohan, a man who has collected more than 10,000 books in his lifetime. At StoryCorps, he told his daughter, Paru, where his love of books came from.

Our last story comes from a family who didn’t just feel at home in the library, they actually lived in one. At StoryCorps, Ronald Clark remembers how his father’s new job came with a change in address — to one of New York’s most beloved institutions.

Top photo: Ronald Clark and Jamilah Clark at their StoryCorps interview in New York, NY. Photo by Naomi Blech for StoryCorps. 
Second photo: Karama Neal and Olly Neal at their StoryCorps interview in Little Rock, AR. Photo by Yasmin Peña for StoryCorps.
Third photo: Storm Reyes and Jeremy Hagquist at their StoryCorps interview in Tacoma, WA. Photo by Cristina Kim for StoryCorps.
Fourth photo: Paru Venkat and Alagappa Rammohan pose after their StoryCorps interview in Chicago, IL. By Eliza Lambert for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Ronald Clark, his parents, and his daughter Jamilah. Credit: Clark family, courtesy of NYPL.

Released on July 14, 2020.