“I just read a four-volume book series on Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro,” says my friend LP Fattire. “Fascinating. I can lend them to you.
“Big books? ” I ask.
“Yes. Over 3,000 pages in total.
“I’ll pass. I already have a big pile of books. And I read Johnson’s biography by Doris Kearns Goodwin a few years ago.
“What are you reading right now?” LP request
“I’m reading a murder mystery,” I said. “Also, a book on the reconstruction of the White House during the Truman presidency. I never knew the place was on the verge of collapse after 13 decades of abuse. And I’m reading a book called “Smallpox Eradication in Ethiopia”. ”
“Is this the eradication of smallpox in Ethiopia?
“Yeah. An old buddy of mine is one of the perpetrators. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 70s, and that’s what he did. Helped eradicate smallpox in Ethiopia He was bitten by a baboon.
“Do you always read three books at the same time?” LP request
“No. I’m not a baboon. But, usually two. I have my top book which I read in bed and my bottom book which I read every time,” I said. also a toilet book that I read when…”
“Yeah, I get it,” says LP
Reading books is a wonderful thing, in my opinion. They can be fun, enlightening, boring, mystifying, and just about any other word that ends in “…ing”. I grew up in a house full of books and was reading almost all of them by the time I left home. Then there was college and graduate school, when I had to read a ton to pass my classes.
There have been two times in my life when I cut very far in my reading.
The first time was when my children were small and needed a lot of attention. Fortunately, they both learned to read when they were 4 years old, so I was able to start over.
The second time I quit books was when I oversubscribed to a bunch of magazines. I received The Atlantic, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Newsweek, Astronomy, Cross Country Skiing, Bicycling, Sailing and Popular Science magazines. Just going through the first three months each month was a daunting task.
Eventually, all of my subscriptions expired and resulted in 4.2 million phone calls each month begging me to re-subscribe. I went back to books.
I always read real books with real pages, but I also have an e-book. It’s easier to manage lying on my back in my bed. If I come across a word I don’t know, I can put my finger on it and the definition appears. If I come across a character that I can’t place in the story, I can put my finger on the name and get a rundown of their importance to the story. When I finish a book, I can have a new one, anytime, anywhere, in a minute.
Once in a while, I start a book, I don’t like it and I never finish it. Two good friends warmly recommended a book to me in March. It has 999 pages and fine print. I read 500 pages and I liked 100. It’s living a quiet life alone on my library.
A friend of mine doesn’t understand why I’m “wasting my time” reading novels, on top of everything else I read. Here is my answer to that: It is impossible to take an adequate photograph of a mountain or an ocean. Only an artist can capture the essence of either. Likewise, a novelist can capture the essence of life, thoughts and ideas.
I love life, thoughts, ideas and books.
Jim Whitehouse lives in Albion.