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Books, Books, and More Books October 2, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Books, Communication, Education, Family, Language, Learning, Memory, Parenting/Children, Reflections, Religion, Self-Worth.
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Tiffany tagged me, so I am therefore obligated by blogging tradition to answer the same list of questions. The theme here, as the title suggests, is books.

Time Enough at Last

Before I dive into the list and my answers, I should point out that I used to read far more books than I currently do. This is in part a result of the Internet, and its vast array of possibilities for reading. (Unfortunately, most of the fiction on the Internet is material that is presented as non-fiction.) I love books. Hopefully, that love will be obvious in this list.

(When I can decide who I want to tag, I’ll add their names and links somewhere on this page.)

A Book That Changed My Life
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

The knee-jerk reaction here for a Christian is to just say “The Bible” and be done with it. Were I to answer this way, it would be accurate, as the Bible has changed my life. However, in the interest of pointing to something else that changed my life (almost surprisingly so), I offer up this book. It was originally published 80 or so years ago, but it’s just as relevant today as it was the day it was written (that is to say, very relevant).

I have dreams that Rush Limbaugh will someday read this book and stop being such an ass. If he were to read it, his show would change so dramatically that nobody would recognize it as the same show. Sadly, he doesn’t realize that he would influence more people, in a more productive way, if he were to do so.

My younger sister gave me a copy of this when I was a teenager, along with a note about me already being more mature than most of the adults she knew. She was wrong (of course), but I have never forgotten the principles found in those pages.

A Book That I’ve Read More Than Once
The Complete Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle

This book is proof that even if you’re an eccentric nutcase, if you put your mind to it, you can conjur up fabulous stories, rich characters, and intricate details that will keep the stories fresh long after the original manuscripts have decayed into dust. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t enjoy reading any of the Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve read all of them. Many times.

A Book I’d Want On A Desert Island
How to Get Off a Desert Island

Sadly, a quick Google shows that this is a fairly common answer. What I would want more than any other book, is a monsterous amount of writing paper and enough pencils to last through my stay on the island. I think writing things down would be a way for me to keep what little sanity I have left.

A Book That Made Me Giddy
Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert Heinlein

I first read this book as an impressionable teenager, dreaming of space travel. I grew up watching the Gemini and Apollo space missions unfold every night on the news, so it seemed quite logical that the human race would keep pushing deeper and deeper into space. Heinlein is a great story teller, and this book captures wonderfully the nexus of teenage angst, hope, adventure, and rebellion.

I can remember the facination of this book, and the excitement I felt as I turned the pages to learn what would happen next to Rod Walker and his classmates. Adults can enjoy this book, but it seems that Heinlein had younger readers in mind when he penned this bestseller.

A Book That I Wish Were Written
The Diaries of My Parents

It pains me all the stories that my parents told over the years, that I’ve already forgotten. I wish they had both written life-long diaries, independently, and kept them somewhere that I could find them. After my mother’s death, my Dad and I found his childhood diary, and I found it facinating to peer into history through his eyes. I have no doubt that such writings would reveal any number of not-so-pleasant things about my parents, but I would still want to read them.

A Book That Made Me Sob
Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

As a pre-teen, my oldest son watched the made-for-TV movie adaptation, and demanded that I let him stay up past his bedtime to watch the end. He cried over this movie. The pull on his emotions convinced me that it was worth a read. It’s worth several readings. I cried too, and I’m glad I did.

A Book That I Wish Were Never Written
Nothing

Nada. Zip. Zero. I can honestly say, in spite of how many really bad books I’ve read, there aren’t any that I would wish hadn’t been written. (There are many that I wish had not been so widely read, but that’s a different issue.) I’m a firm believer in the power of ideas, and that the ones that stand up to the test of time are always worth consideration. For me, suggesting that a book shouldn’t have been written is a dangerous mental path to follow. It says “I would prefer to remain ignorant, instead of burdened with information that one might have to parse and assess.”

A Book That I’m Currently Reading
The Bible, by God (with… others)

I don’t know that I have read every verse of The Bible, but I feel quite confident that over the course of my life, I’ve read upwards of 95%, and a good 75% of it I’ve read several times. Since I teach Bible Study every Sunday morning, I’m consistently reading it. My favorite books of The Bible are:

  • Genesis: This book takes you from the creation of the universe (young or old Earth… you choose… I don’t care), up through the emergence of monotheism, and when it’s all said and done you’ve got the basis for the origins of Israel. There is so much here to read and enjoy, regardless of your theology, that even if someone approached it as fiction, it makes for compelling storytelling. When I teach this book in youth Bible Study, it takes almost six months to get through it all.
  • Ecclesiastes: In sharp contrast to the pie-in-the-sky, almost mind-numbing (for me) simplicity of Proverbs, this book gives advice for life based on the mistakes of “The Teacher” (generally accepted to be Solomon, the author of Proverbs). If you want to listen to a young know-it-all (and based on his reputation for wisdom, Solomon probably could rightfully claim to “know it all”) who hasn’t been there yet, read Proverbs. If you want to listen to the pain and heartache of someone who’s wasted large portions of his life “chasing after the wind,” read Ecclesiastes.
  • Romans: Want a bunch of parables about Jesus? Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Want to read the kind of theological treatise that a geek (logic-oriented, borderline arrogant, never ambiguous, ultra-precise in language) would write if he had been in a Close Encounter of the Born-Again Kind? Read Romans. It’s as if Paul played the part of Dorothy Lamour in “On the Road to Damascus” with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, but without the good punch lines.

A Book I’ve Been Meaning To Read
All of Them

This episode of The Twilight Zone sums it up for me.

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Comments»

1. Tiffany - October 3, 2006

>>A Book That I Wish Were Written
The Diaries of My Parents>>

In my mother’s bedroom, stashed in drawers and on shelves and in her closet, are the journals she’s been keeping since she was a teenager. (She’s now 74.) She writes every day, noting any major events as well as details like the weather. If she has people over, she writes down the menu. If we go somewhere together, she tracks where we went, what we did, and where/what we ate. On trips, she takes a smaller journal and writes notes as she goes, which she then transfers into the main book later.

Many times over the years, when I’ve been trying to remember a detail from a former event (“What did we serve at the church Derby party last year?”) she’s researched her journals and come up with the answer (“You provided the drinks and dessert, and the rest was potluck, and Jill brought that wonderful quesadilla maker.”)

Some day these journals will be mine, and I’ll have to decide whether to read them. (Among other things, there are several specific times from my life that I’m not sure I want to remember through her eyes.) When I imagine sitting with this lifetime’s worth of incredibly personal memories, I can’t visualize opening the cover and beginning to read. It will be like having her soul pour out of the pages — wonderful but overpowering and perhaps too much. I hope I have many years before I need to make that decision.

2. Rose - October 3, 2006

I had a Great Aunt who did the same thing. She’s gone now and I have no idea who in her immediate family retained those journals. I’d love to read them and have to agree with Tim that I wish my parents would have written down all the wonderful stories and wisdom they have shared with me that I now don’t always remember.

I wonder if blogs will be our children’s journals of us in the future?

3. Laura - October 3, 2006

>
That wouldn’t surprise me. I kept a journal for many years when I was growing up, but I was so disturbed about what I wrote that I burned them all. I’ve kept a journal off and on as an adult, and will gladly pass them on to my daughter when I’m gone.

My mom (whose almost 76) hasn’t kept a journal, but if she did, it would no doubt be very cool to read. I may have to ask her to start one for her five children.

4. Laura - October 3, 2006

Tim,

I forgot to say this… I appreciate your suggestions for reading in the Bible. I never know where to start, and you’ve given me some ideas.
Thank you. 🙂
Laura

5. Marie (The other sister) - October 25, 2006

He’s still more mature than most of the adults I know… 🙂


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