I readily—and happily—admit that I am addicted to reading. Piles of books stand near my Morning Chair. Books rest beside the couch. A book (or two) lie near my side of the bed. You often find quotes in this blog from my current reading. Not because I can’t find anything else to write about, but because words written by those far more learned, skilled, experienced than I have stimulated my mind and led me to deeper places that need exploring.
I can’t remember not reading but I suppose there was a learning process. Living in the country, my primary source of books until high school was the bookmobile that visited our school on a regular basis. I always thought it unfair that there was an actual limit to the number of books that could be checked out, and on the days of that wheeled treasure’s arrival in the schoolyard, I walked home with arms full of the world’s adventures. To her last days my mother recalled the time I sat under the huge shade tree in our front yard—undetected through any of the windows in our house—reading one of my chosen tomes. Only after calling neighbors to see where I might have disappeared to did she find me. She—not a reader—did not find the situation amusing.
Quotes about books and reading abound. They stretch from the sublime to the ridiculous, written by the learned and those simply droll:
A room without books is like a body without a soul. (Cicero)
Books fall open, you fall in. (David McCord)
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. (Jorge Luis Borges)
Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. (Lemony Snicket)
I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. (Groucho Marx)
Because I read much in preparation for teaching or leading groups, my “relaxation reading” tends often toward the light-hearted, books unlikely to be nominated for the Booker or Newbery awards. The other day I found a small spiral notebook hidden away in a pile—in one of those book piles—in which I had written quotes from what I was reading at that period, My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. Even at this much later date the words reached into my soul and I knew it was time to put down some of my “bathtub reading” (that porcelain vessel a great place to not only soak away aching muscles but soothe a tired mind) and re-read Potok, Bashevis Singer and similar spinners of profound tales. My soul needs a good dose of stirring.
Many years ago a treasured friend—several years older than I—bubbled over with ideas, questions, discoveries made while reading a quite literary theological journal. Her eyes sparkled as she said, “I pour over every issue that comes. Usually I need a dictionary nearby, and I frequently have to re-read particularly ‘deep’ sentences and paragraphs, but—oh my—what a dance I experience as I partner with these minds so much greater than my own.” June’s mind is now perfectly satisfied as she dances in the presence of God but she has left me a valuable legacy.
Now, where did I put my copy of My Name Is Asher Lev?
Thoughts for you:
What book(s) do you remember from your childhood? What memories are awakened as you think of those books?
If you aren’t a ”reader”—or don’t consider yourself one—what is your most enjoyable way of receiving entertainment and/or information?