I read, therefore, I am
November 4, 2013
Just consider this an ode to reading.
Perhaps I am thinking about this because on Sunday, October 27th we were graced at my home with the arrival of a new little girl, my second grandchild and first granddaughter.
Her arrival has taken me back to the days spent raising my own girls, those many nights when we would curl up and read together. The Cat in the Hat, The Biggest Bear, the Whingdingdilly, Wilford Gordon MacDonald Partridge were some of our favorites, books read so many times the covers were frayed with love.
Those thoughts cascade into ones more remote.
My first memory, not just my first recollection of books, but my very earliest remembrance, was bedtime when I was a child, and my father would prop me on his chest, my feet in his face, a storybook Bible in his hands inches from my face.
I can still see those images. Daniel in the Lion’s Den, the rich man calling out from the realm of eternal punishment, the chariot of fire that swept up the prophet, the Garden Eden where the gate to paradise closed forever behind the first couple.
Later for me came Treasure Island, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Old Yeller.
The Dick and Jane reader I so longed for in the first grade, all those other school books, the World Book Encyclopedia, which I studied at home like a person lost in the woods searches for the path home.
Reading Robert Heinlein in an over-stuffed chair in the basement of our public library, where I saw the works of Thomas Aquinas and wondered about them.
C. S. Lewis.
The Russians: Fyodor Dostoevsky, Tolstoi and Solzhenitsyn.
John Updike, Saul Bellow, Cormac McCarthy, John Irving. Walker Percy.
The pulp fictioneers: Dashiell Hamett, Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald.
Then the philosophers and theologians: Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustine, Origen, Martin Luther, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Neibuhr, Descartes, Locke, Karl Barth, Alfred North Whitehead.
Later still came John Grisham, Dennis LeHane and a host of contemporary writers.
Wendell Berry, James Lee Burke, Jory Sherman and Caleb Pirtle.
With the arrival of the digital revolution, I discovered another world of writers and books.
You get the picture.
When I think about it, books have defined my life in each of its stages. Some of them have stayed with me throughout the journey, others have dropped almost out of my field of vision, yet they are still there forming the filter through which I see the world.
I suspect my experience with books is little different from that of many of you.
Maybe the titles or authors vary.
But the profound influence of books is the same for all readers.
So you’ve seen a few of the books and authors that I have crossed paths with over the years. I would love to hear from you about the ones you hold dear.