7 TED Talks That Will Change The Way You Think About Books

Once upon a time, there was only one way to experience a book: reading it. Nowadays, though, there are a million ways to engage with books outside of simple reading, from movie adaptations and podcasts to digital book clubs and bookish TED talks that will change the way you look at books. If you thought you were interested in books before, just wait until you hear a short and inspiring talk about your favorite subject, and your mind will be completely blown.

In 1984, the first TED (Technology,Entertainment, Design) Conference was held in February as a one-time event focused on tech and design in Silicon Valley, but by 1990, it became an annual event encompassing every scientific, cultural, and scholarly subject under the sun. In the 32 years since its conception, there have been thousands of TED talks on everything from feminism and the future to media and medicine given by experienced professionals, brilliant academics, and creative geniuses alike. Over the last three decades, the brightest minds and the biggest talents have taken the stage, both the physical one and the digital one, to share their ideas, passions, and hopes with millions of viewers eager to learn, and even more eager to change.

Among the best TED talks to date are the ones focusing on books. From the way books are designed to the power they have to open your mind, there's no bookish subject off limits to the authors, artists, designers, business people, and more who grace the TED stage.

Think you can handle it? Try watching one of these seven TED Talks, and get ready to have the way you think about books completely transformed.

1.The Politics of Fiction by Elif Shafak

TED on YouTube

In "The Politics of Fiction,"Elif Shafak, the most-read female author in Turkey, uses her unique literary voice to describe the ability reading and writing fiction gives us to transcend boundaries and understand the experiences of others. Moving and inspiring, this is the kind of talk that will make you truly believe in the power of books.

2. Why a Good Book Is a Secret Door by Mac Barnett

TED on YouTube

Children's book author Mac Barnett has penned fifteen stories for young readers, which is why he is especially qualified to talk about creativity, wonder, and imagination in "Why a Good Book Is a Secret Door." In his 2014 talk, the writer discusses bringing stories to life on the page, with both words and illustration, and the ability good books have to transport readers to a brand new world. Engaging and inspirational, add this talk will remind you of the many reasons children should be surrounded by books.

3. What We Learned from 5 Million Books by Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Lieberman Aiden

TED on YouTube

You may be into reading for the stories, but Harvard researchers Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel see a lot more than just words when they look at books. In their talk "What We Learned from 5 Million Books," Michel and Lieberman Aiden use Google Labs' Ngram Viewer, a database of over 5 million books throughout time, to reveal intriguing insights about history, culture, intelligence, and more. A fascinating conversation about art, technology, and humanity, you will never look at word counts the same again after this one.

4. The Hilarious Art of Book Design by Chip Kidd

TED on YouTube

Chip Kidd has spent over 30 years working for Alfred A. Knopf, designing books like Jurassic Park and All the Pretty Horses, and in his three decades of experience, Kidd has learned one thing: the necessity for humor. In "The Hilarious Art of Book Design," Kidd explains the thought and art to book cover design with wit, humor, and the kind of insight that only comes with his level of expertise. If you weren't judging books by their covers before, this talk might make you start.

5. My Life in Typefaces by Matthew Carter

TED on YouTube

Whether you're an avid reader or just a general consumer, you interact with typefaces on a daily basis, but how much thought do you give them? After watching the TED talk by Matthew Carter, the designer behind Veranda and Georgia and many others, you won't be able to stop yourself from examining every line and curve. An intriguing talk about the changing landscape of typeface — from photo to digital to desktop and beyond — "My Life in Typefaces" is a detailed account of a fascinating life that all book-lovers will find interesting.

6. A Next-Generation Digital Book by Mike Matas

TED on YouTube

Speaking of book design, software developer Mike Matas presents readers with a whole new experience in his talk, "A Next-Generation Digital Book." Although its five years old and the technology discussed is more commonly known now, Matas's talk reminds readers of the endless possibilities books hold, both in content and form.

7. How Books Can Open Your Mind by Lisa Bu

TED on YouTube

Have you ever had a book that saved your life, gave you hope, or helped you through a hard time? Lisa Bu, a TED employee, can relate. In her funny and heartwarming talk, "How Books Can Open Your Mind," Bu discusses how books helped her throughout her life, including when she came to live in the United States, and how reading helped her expand her mind and understand her world better. A unique and personal talk, this is for book-lovers everywhere.

Images: Youtube (8)