Tuesday, December 16, 2014
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” — Oscar Wilde
When I was a little boy, I read books to escape the depressing world of my childhood. I read every “Hardy Boy” book that Franklin Dixon wrote and it was over 100 just to start. My love of reading has stayed with me throughout my life. I was touring a university and passed a classroom where all the students had paperback books in their hands. I asked what was going on and discovered that there were degrees in literature where your text books were works of fiction written by the finest writers in the world. My very next degree was a Master’s in English, primarily 20th century American literature. I followed that with seven years of Ph.D. reading almost every book in British Literature and of course, had to read world literature to understand why American and British literature were supposed to be better. I later taught American, British, and World Literature and learned that you never really knew a book until you had to teach it. No matter what job I had, I managed to read ten to twenty books a month (I still do). I read to my children long before they could understand what I was saying. My four years in seminary required me to read hundreds of books about the Bible and religion and in spite of my distaste for it at the time, mission work. When we first came here, there were no libraries and books were just too heavy to transport overseas. My sister came to my rescue and would go to thrift shops and buy up to fifty or sixty paperbacks at a time, and, in those days, you could send things here by ship for almost nothing. It took a long time but I didn’t care as I would never have finished the ones she had most recently sent me till the next ones arrived. You can no longer send books by ship but I could still buy them from other missionaries who were returning home. Since then came a new invention, the iPad, on which I could have books delivered wirelessly and read and read all I could as long as the battery lasted which was up to fourteen hours or so. Recently, I have received a Kindle PaperWhite which in now one of my most prized possessions. The iPad was very large and hard to hold while I was reading, but it didn’t deter me. The new Kindle PaperWhite (I am receiving no compensation for plugging their product), is amazing as it is small, easy to hold and reads almost like a real book. The most wonderful thing about it is that my oldest son lets me buy the books, but he pays for them. When I told him of my unease at spending his money, he told me the books also show up in his library, so it was like getting books with my personal recommendation. It has truly been a life saver. I read biographies, books about African Christianity, mission, mysteries, the latest John Grisham, books on Tanzania, plus a number of Bibles are also at my fingertips. The picture I am reusing today is the one of the father smiling at his son reading in English here at our mission. My wife’s school is still teaching the love of reading which changes lives and cultures. Thank you son for my Kindle PaperWhite, and thank you Karen, for instilling the love of reading in all the children you have taught here for the last ten years. As for the rest of you, get reading, and read to your children and grandchildren. You will be giving them one of the greatest gifts possible.