Saturday, July 27, 2013

"You must choose, but choose wisely."



It was born then, this idea that I must have books, not only for our children but for Abigail and myself. We must not lose touch with that we were, with what we had been, nor must we allow the well of our history to dry up, for a child without tradition is a child crippled before the world. Tradition can also be an anchor of stability and a shield to guard one from irresponsibility and hasty decisions. 
(All quotes from the character Barnabas Sackett in To The Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour)

It is amazing how the wide availability of books has been a norm for a relatively short period of time in terms of human history, and yet they have become indispensable to basic happiness in life. A child growing up in a house without books is a child deprived of a basic necessity. Yet even today, children are raised without books in the house--and not always due to poverty, per se. 

But for most of the children raised in this country, books are plentiful. They can be easily gotten out of a library, they are all about them at school, and they can buy cheap ones at the corner convenience store. Yet, 42% of college graduates will never read another book after they graduate (if you can trust the statistic…but even if it is close, it is tragic!)

What books then? They must be few, for the luggage of books is no easy thing when they must be carried in canoes, packs, and upon one's back.
While some of us have trouble housing all of our books, I suspect that most people with books in their homes have a bookshelf or two filled. A trip to the local library or bookstore will reveal shelves and shelves of the latest books on every subject under the sun. It is hard to even imagine having to pare it down to a handful that will last you a lifetime, or at least a few years till you can find more. 

     Each book must be one worth rereading many times, each a book that has much to say, that can lend meaning to a life, help in decisions, comfort one during moments of loneliness. One needed a chance to listen to the words of other men who had lived their lives, to share with them trials an troubles by day and by night in home or in the markets of cities. 

There really is nothing better than a good book. One that can be read again and again. Sometimes I feel like I go through books like TV shows--living in that world for a short time only to leave it and forget it utterly. "Have we seen this episode before?" "Did I read that book yet?"

But, then there are those books that you read again and again, or if you don't reread them, you at least re-live them. And you can't wait to share them with your kids. 

Is it possible that in today's world we have too many books? Is it possible that it is too easy to get a book to print? 
Would more young people continue reading after they leave school if there were fewer choices? If books were more rare, more dear?

Not every book is worth reading. Many are at worst harmful, and at best a waste of precious time. 


The Bible of course, for aside from religion there is much to be learned of men and their ways in the Bible. It is also a source of comments made of references and figures of speech. No man could consider himself education without some knowledge of it.

     Plutarch aslo. My father, a self-educated man, placed much weight upon him. He was, I quote my father, urbane, sophisticated, and intelligent, giving a sense of calmness and consideration to all he wrote. "I think," my father said, "that more great men have read him that perhaps any other book." 

If you had to carry on your back the books you would read for the next 5 or 10 years, what would they be?  

Bonus points if you guess what movie the title of this post is from.

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