19 January 2014


One of my double-stacked bookshelves
For as long as I can remember, I've been a reader, a lover of books, a word nerd, if you will. Through our various moves, one of the things I've never been willing to purge is my collection of books. Even with this last move and our intentional down-sizing, I would not yield on letting my books go. Today they sit, hundreds of them, double-stacked on two sad, sagging press-board bookshelves in our basement. I love my collection of books. I love the power of words.

Books took me to places I never knew about and instilled in me a desire to explore the world. Books have introduced me to people who inspire, admire, enrage, and make me think. The words on the pages of the myriad books I've read have helped to shape my worldview, which is mine. It's okay by me if you don't share it. That's one of the beauties of this world.

As mentioned, I have eclectic tastes in books, although I do tend to lean toward historical non-fiction. Here's a peek at what I'm reading now and the last few books I've read:



  • The Men Who United The States - Simon Winchester - The story of how the western part of the U.S. came to be 
  • Creating Room to Read - John Wood - Behind the scenes in the growth of Room to Read, an impressive investment, not a charity, in bringing books to the world
  • Drama High - Michael Sokolove - How the power of the arts has influenced students in a community left behind by the new world economy
  • End of Days - James L. Swanson - the Kennedy Assassination
  • Sycamore Row - John Grisham - a return to one of Grisham's more memorable characters. Grisham is one of my few nods to fiction. I don't like to get all Judgy McJudge about mass-market fiction and wave my English Lit degree flag, but I will admit to having a bias against the stuff.
  • Command and Control - Eric Schlosser - who knew a bit of Arkansas was nearly obliterated in the early 1980's due to a missle silo accident? 
  • To the End of June - Cris Beam - a not so pleasant, but necessary, look in to foster care in America
  • On the Noodle Road - Jen Lin-Liu - following the humble and ubiquitous noodle from Beijing to Rome
See, I told you, it's a bit eclectic, or let's call it charming. And I still like to have a book in my hands. I like the feel of it. I like the turning of the page. Sure, I have a Kindle and I'm a fan of the iBook app and that's made reading a whole lot easier while on the plane or train, but I'll always favor the tangible feel of a book.

The stunningly patient SML and I have tried to imbue that love of reading in our children. When we first started our family, one of SML's aunts, J, an educator, helped us establish some reading rituals and gave us some ideas on how to help our children learn to read when they were very young. Our first-born never had a chance though. When she was born, I was completing my senior year of university and in between a wicked final Shakespeare course and a graduation paper on the role of grace in Southern short fiction (two things on that - that was written for a Catholic professor at, wait for it, BYU, and can I get an amen, Flannery O'Connor?), she was read to constantly, even before she was born! We are forever grateful for those lessons and opportunities to read to our children as we see Our Lady Of Awesome implementing those same lessons with the Baby Awesome. Seeing him soothed by a book and reaching to turn the pages of what was being read to him while we were together recently was, in a word, wondrous.

So, my fellow word nerds, let your reader freak flag fly. I know mine does.

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