Finding stability in this day may seem nearly impossible for some, but such steadiness can be found by reading wise books and words, a Brigham Young University professor says.

"The wise books that bring joy and stability to our lives are the books that carry knowledge and truths that endure in language worthy of them," said Marilyn Arnold, English professor and dean of graduate studies at BYU.Speaking at the opening of the Brigham Young University Women's Conference, Arnold said, "We are gathered here to consider many things, but most important among them, the truth spoken by Isaiah that `wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times,' meaning our time or any time.

"Wisdom and knowledge not only build the house of our intellect and spirit, they furnish it in wonderful ways."

Arnold said the desire to gain knowledge comes spontaneously to a child when it is anchored by the example of parents.

"As I have grown up cherishing good books and well-turned phrases . . . I remember a mother who read daily, no matter how late the hour or how weary the day."

One of her mother's favorite sayings was, "Don't go to bed until you have learned something new."

"Surely, it is this hunger for knowledge and this love of wisdom and words that have undergirded my life," Arnold said. "Perhaps too seldom do we properly credit the power and importance of the word."

Arnold said she chose the title of her talk, "By Knowledge Shall the Chambers be Filled," from Proverbs 24:3-4 because the link between wisdom, knowledge and stability is explicit.

Words fitly spoken, like "apples of gold in pictures of silver," offer spiritual nourishment, the sustenance of beauty and wonder. They give stability to the soul, Arnold said.

Instead of relying on self-help books "whose principal inspiration is the dollar sign and whose object is to focus our attention solely on ourselves," we should take the Savior at his word and come unto him, she said.

"Here, my dear sisters, are riches enough to fill a thousand chambers. And if you look to where she sits on the front row, you just might see my mother, busily making preparations for bed."

The conference ends Friday. Nearly 4,000 women and men had enrolled Thursday.