“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
—Mark Twain

In celebration of National Reading Month, I have decided to share some quick thoughts on this vital topic. I am the first to confess that I find it challenging to find the time to read, or more accurately, to take the time to read. As the hunting and fishing magazines pile up next to the sofa, my husband is always asking if he can throw some of them away. Since I can’t fathom throwing them away, the stack grows taller.

hunting magazines

The pile keeps growing!

THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGING

little girl reading a book
My granddaughter, Elinor reading her favorite book

It seems like the Sunday morning ritual of reading every page of the Sunday paper, enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee, and making time to fill out the crossword puzzle has been replaced with a quick drive-through at Starbucks while you scroll through social media. Book club gatherings were once times to get together to discuss books, but now “book club” is code for dinner and drinks with friends. And then there is my sweet granddaughter, Elinor, who was listening intently to her mommy reading a story. Her little fingers kept trying to swipe the pages of the book, and she was frustrated because she could not figure out why the pages didn’t move.

SPEED READING!

We now live in a world filled with words at our fingertips. Search engines such as Google make it so easy to find information online. Books, newspapers, and magazines have been in decline for many years, making room for online editions of most print materials. Just about all major magazines have daily online pages with catchy titles, offering an alternative to their glossy color pages. Some writers, myself included, reach their audiences by blogging. The shorter articles and quick reads satisfy many people in this whirlwind we call life. Of course, YouTube is even more popular—you don’t even have to read, just watch and listen. And of course, there is Instagram, where a good photo might be worth a thousand words. Many readers find it quite satisfying to catch a glimpse of trending stories and headlines on Twitter, where the 140-word limit is about to be increased to 280 words.

AN INVITING LIBRARY WITH A COZY FIREPLACE

beautiful library
My favorite place to curl up and read a book!

And then there is our library, filled with the most fantastic collection of books, including some great classics of literature such as The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Cabbages and Kings by O. Henry. Many of these books are so old that, over time, they have taken on that familiar old-book smell, reminding you of the many years that have passed since they were published. Of course, there are numerous books about hunting and fishing, history, politics, travels to Africa, health and wellness, as well as children’s books and lots of great novels.

beautiful elder women
Dotsy Lloyd Boineau, my sweet mother-in-law!

 

My wonderful mother-in-law, Dotsy Boineau, entrusted this collection of books to us when we built our present home, which provides a perfect sanctuary for them in our library. She has always had a love affair with words and an insatiable desire to read. To the amazement of most people who know her, at the age of 90, she still reads a book a day. Dotsy was the curator at the Confederate Relic Room in Columbia, South Carolina for many years and is a scholar of everything related to the history of the Civil War. She’s a past president general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (from 1980 to 1982), and made significant contributions to the 12-volume series Recollections and Reminiscences 1861–1865 through WWI, which takes pride of place in our library.

We have tried many times to buy Dotsy a Kindle, but she politely turns it down. Like many people of her generation, she believes there is nothing like the sensation of turning the pages with your fingers, and the joy of holding a hardback book is unparalleled—even a paperback copy cannot take its place.

THE ERA OF THE ENCYCLOPEDIA

I remember the very day circa 1960 when our elementary school teacher, Mr. Peters, came to our house to talk to my parents about buying a set of Compton encyclopedias. It was a big deal for a teacher to make a home visit, so we were nervous with anticipation. Mr. Peters was a very authoritative and respected teacher who rose to become a school principal years later. He taught my two older brothers and my older sister, and he knew that, with three more coming up behind me, our family could use reference books. It was hard not to stare at his strained gait when Mr. Peters walked into our kitchen and struggled as he took a seat at our table. Stricken with polio as a child, he overcame many challenges in his life and sold encyclopedias to supplement his family income.

Reference Book
Brings back so many memories!

Our eyes were wide with interest, and our parents cautioned us not to interrupt while they were discussing the encyclopedias with Mr. Peters. We all sat around the table and listened to him make his presentation. To this day,  those old brown books with their gold leaf,  tattered and dog-eared, are still fresh in my mind.  It was a big purchase for my parents, and one of which they were very proud to have made.

READ MY LIPS

Sometimes I wonder if my followers have time—or make time—to read my blog and think that maybe I should focus on other things rather than writing. I mentioned this to my friend, Kim Davis, and she quickly responded with something that resonated with me. She said that, at the very least, my blog is a great journal that my children, their children, and those who follow would be able to enjoy. And when I get frustrated and start to doubt myself, out of the blue, a stranger approaches me and tells me how much they appreciate my writings, and at that moment, I get a renewed perspective.

So, read my lips, no more doubt. I will continue reading and writing. I am going to turn off the television, close down my computer, pour a glass of my favorite Pinot Noir, turn on the fireplace, and lose myself in a good book. If you made time to read this article, I am very appreciative and wish you would leave me a message so I can say thank you!

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