“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
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.
THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGING
- 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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Please continue to write. Add the grandkids flavor to your stories. You are very much appreciated.
Thank you so much! Indeed, I will do just that. Protecting the outdoors for our future generation is what inspires me. Thanks for the reminder, and thank you for reading my posts!
I love this! Yes, finding time to read is a must. I remember taking whole days to read and now can barely scratch out a few minutes here and there. We fill our days with so much!
Even as a writer I wonder, who has time to read what I put down on paper and who cares.
I am so glad that I am not the only one who questions who has time to read. So, we have to keep inspiring and supporting each other. I try so hard to read as many blog posts and subscribe to as many as I can. I will even work harder. Thank you so much, Anne, for all your continued support. I love your adventures and encourage everyone to check out your writings.
I love this blog. I too fall into that generation of books, newspapers and yes…encyclopedias. I remember fighting with other kids to check them out at the school library…then getting home to giggle about sperm whales! Reading is falling to the wayside with common staples of our generation like cursive writing, letters and pay phones. Blogging does in fact reach people that we may not otherwise reach. We literally have about 6 seconds online to attract attention. A good book, however, can occupy us for days. I love both worlds and find both enjoyable for their own reasons. But I realized through this blog that you are my soul sister…I am currently working on our library renovation at home. I can’t read e-books…I need to turn pages and smell the cover. I collect collections. Can’t help it. And…my love for a good pinot noir…. I raise my glass to you!
Soul sisters for sure!!!! I knew that as a blogger, you especially would be able to relate to this post. Six seconds is right on, and there is a lot of competition in the hunting world with good content available for our readers to consume. Your posts are engaging, very relevant, and to the point, which makes them super popular. My posts are a little more story-telling, which sometimes can limit my audience. I like to mix it up with whatever comes to mind. But those books in my library! I am so fascinated with the scope of excellent writing that it makes me feel like a minnow in an ocean of whales. Thanks for making me feel like a silver tuna today and I raise my glass to you as well!
Books cannot be replaced. Writing is still special and renowned, even in this day and age of technology and instant gratification. Don’t give up. (I’m speaking to myself as well!) this is a good thing. This is special. It deserves every effort you put into it. Thank you so much for being an inspiration !!!
Thank you, Leslie! You inspire me as well. Your blog is not just a journal, it is a testament to your commitment to teaching conservation to your boys! I enjoy your writings and photos!
I do not know a time in my life when I was not reading and stashing books. Books were my escape, my entertainment, my teachers, my counselors. My home is littered with books in every room, and am forever lamenting the need for yet one more bookcase, one more place to put more books…..
Thank you for such a lovely and well written piece that resonates with all of us who love reading and books.
Dear Gretchen, Thank you so very much for your kind comments on my blog and on Facebook! I admire you so very much for so many reasons. Our writings and photography capture emotions that evoke a memory or a thought that is meaningful to the reader and that is what we as outdoor communicators strive to do. It is what drives us to continue.
I love this, Maggie! Yes, keep reading and writing my dear friend! Since returning to school three years ago, my love for reading is stronger than ever. My time spent on social media is minimal as I find it distracting. The only thing that feels as freeing as reading is living in wide open spaces, and that may be my next chapter. I love the outdoors and a lot of your writing takes me back my childhood days, growing up with my horses and exploring the woods. Kim made a great point about it being a personal journal for your family in the years to come. Read, explore, write and inspire, Maggie!
Oh my goodness, Spring! This message makes me so happy knowing that in your busy life, you make time to read and appreciate my stories. The outdoors is so much a part of my life. I think I will grab a book and sit under a tree and read if it stops raining, that is! Thank you so much!
Your story about old deer stands brought tears to my eyes! I remember finding those quite often while trail riding, before I was even in my teens. We always stopped and climbed up regardless of the structure’s condition. It is beyond me how we escaped without injury! Some were very close to falling apart. Great memories relived through your writing!
I am so glad! I have had this story in my head for years. I think it is safe to say that I am obsessed with old deer stands. I am hoping that by the end of the year, I will have a beautiful collection of photos. You never know, maybe you will come across one and enter it in the contest! Thank you, Spring. I could not be happier to know that you are enjoying my stories!
Well done, Maggie!
Thank you, Elizabeth! It was fun to include two of my favorite people in the article-sweet Elinor and Mama!!
There’s so much in this article that touched me. First the Confederate Relic Room is one of my favourite places. Reading the old books I know what you mean. Although most of my reading is done on line anymore I still carry a book with me most of the time. The picture of the old Compton’s really got to me as my parents bought that same set for me when I was a small child and in the 60s updated them to a set with white covers which I still have. I keep them as a keepsake. I never leave comments on articles but there was just so much in this one that touched me I just had to say something. Thank you.
Thank you, Edward! I am so glad you are familiar with the Confederate Relic Room. Dotsy contributed so much to preserving accurate history of the Civil War. The fact that you took the time to read the article and comment on it means a lot to me!
Maggie–First of all, I’m totally in your mother-in-law’s corner when it comes to wanting to hold, cherish, and even fondle books. A plague on Kindles! Beyond that, reading has been an integral and singularly important part of my life, and obviously I’m dependent on other readers to buy my books and read my words. I do decidedly practice what I preach, since my personal library numbers way northward of 10,000 volumes. Grand topic, and a perfect one for a gray, grim, and rainy day–just the time to sample and savor some fine writing.
I agree that you and Dotsy both have a love affair with books. She gave Trippett the first book in our library edited by you- America’s Greatest Game Bird – Turkey-Hunting Tales by Archibald Rutledge several years ago, and our collection is growing. Your library sounds fantastic. Thanks so much, Jim and any reader would be thrilled to own any of your books!
Thanks! Glad you gave it a read!
Nice work Maggie. Thanks for sharing your wonderful wisdom.
Oh, Joella! Thank you so much and glad you enjoyed it!