Sep. 21, 2018

Reading is our friend!

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...

The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R. R. Martin

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free!” Frederick Douglass

Recently, I came across a review of a book by Anne Bogel, “I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life.”

“For so many people, reading isn’t just a hobby or a way to pass the time,” Anne says, “ – it’s a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can’t imagine life without them.”

When I was about 8 years old, my mother and her best friend, Florene, had taken me and Florene’s two children, Glen and Marsha, who were about my age, to the beach to spend the day. I was lying on my towel squinting against the sun and reading. Glen and Marsha were in the water but I could have cared less. I was reading. My mother said to me, “You’ll never have any character lines on your face because you never stop reading long enough to develop any character!” I wittily replied, “Huh?” and continued reading. Well, I’ve developed plenty of character lines and have never stopped reading.

When we were first married, John discovered that I read constantly and I even brought several books on our honeymoon. He got used to the fact that I had a book propped up in the kitchen, one in the dressing room and had several on my nightstand. He read mostly technical journals when we first met and eventually married, but subscriptions to everything IEEE puts out eventually lose their charm when one’s life partner reads one amusing passages from Fannie Flagg’s “Standing In The Rainbow” or death defying excerpts from John Caldwell’s book, “Desperate Voyage,” like the one below, especially when we had actually MET John Caldwell! 

“From Perlas to Galapagos, and from Galapagos on west, I had uttered such curses as I doubt have ever been heard over the keel of a ship. In every squall, gale, calm, cloudburst, and contrary current, I had unloosed a flood of invective to shame a mule skinner. But more than that...in the height of my extremities I had profaned God Himself. On many an occasion I became so bold as to defy Him, deny Him, and swear I would profess atheism all the rest of my life. I even invited Him on deck – man to man – anything but the obstructing persecution of the elements, anything but the slow crawl when I wanted speed. And now, lost, foodless, without instruments, I humbly bent my knees to the deck and laid my folded hands upon the cabin. With eyes raised, I sent off a most heartfelt plea for forgiveness, a piteous appeal to Pagan’s real Captain.” Now I ask you, doesn’t that beat the heck out of what’s doing with transducers?

Books can infuriate us. Yes, indeed, I read the first chapter of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and threw it in the trash. Thoroughly enjoyed the recent movie, “Book Club,” with Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and so forth, but was dismayed when the book Jane Fonda forced on her friends was “Fifty Shades of Grey!”

I read “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Winsor as a pre-teen and it made such an impression on me that I forbade my own pre-teen daughter, Leah, ever to read it as it was just too sexy. It was pretty racy, even making the Black Plague sound hot and bothered, but nothing like what’s being published now. She still hasn’t read it.

“Little Women,” “Gone With The Wind,” “Lonesome Dove,” “Tom Sawyer,” “Huckleberry Finn,”  anything and everything by Pat Conroy, including his cookbook. And my favorite team, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child...these guys created FBI Special Agent A X L Pendergast, one of the quirkiest, most enigmatic, brilliant persons ever drawn on a page. Jack London, C. S. Lewis, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, and about a hundred others are my favorite authors. Recently read and thoroughly enjoyed:  “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles.

Childhood favorites, all “The Black Stallion” books by Walter Farley, “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry, “Lassie,” “Lad: A Dog” I loved them all. “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Reading, friends and neighbors, never gets old. Reading can keep you from feeling alone, from feeling sorry for yourself. Can help you while away the time waiting for doctors, airplanes, other people. Reading is always our friend. What book made you fall  in love with reading?