This Reader’s Digest

Life-of-Pi-Richard-Parker

It wasn’t until my oldest son had graduated from college that I began to read books.  Prior to that time, I majored in ladies magazines and kept up my annual subscription to the Reader’s Digest.   In truth, most of my reading was done in spurts and accomplished upon a porcelain throne.

When I would visit my English major in collegel, I saw his bookshelves doubled over, spilling with the classics, poetry, biographies, ancient history, some dog-eared textbooks, New York Times best sellers, philosophy, and books about humanity.   Standing there and flipping through them was like shopping in someone’s closet.

One Christmas he gave me a small package tied with a ribbon.  It was a book:  “The Life of Pi”.  At bedtime that winter I read a few chapters and drifted off to sleep, waking in the morning having survived the night on a life raft with a Bengal Tiger and wondering how had I survived forty years without books?  It was then that I made a commitment to myself to get an education.

My time is valuable and I’m halfway “home” so no Nora Roberts romance trash for me, but rather selections and authors that have stood the test of time:  Steinbeck, Capote, Hemingway, Melville, Faulkner, Clemens, McMurtry, Dickens, Roth, Cooper, and my favorite (insert drum roll) Cormac McCarthy.   His book,  “Blood Meridian” took me a month to read and is honestly at the top of my comprehension ability.   When the movie “Seabiscuit” came out in theaters, it was the first time in my life I could critique a movie vs. the book.    One day I asked, “John, what is the best book I could possibly read?”   Without hesitation my son replied, “The Grapes of Wrath” because it is perhaps the finest example of American literature there is.”   My Johnny was right.   I couldn’t put it down and cried like a baby at the end.


My favorite book of the past decade has been, “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger and it gets its own paragraph here.

One of my biggest disappointments has been how Reader’s Digest has changed over the years.  When they changed the front cover from table of contents to pictures with titles, I dropped my subscription.   I do, however, have a sampling of RD magazines on my bookshelves from the 1920′s through 1980′s where the future was predicted with amazing accuracy.  One article described how your banker had to call the hospital and vouch that you had funds to pay for the blood used in a life saving transfusion for your child.  No money, no blood – 1928.

This reader’s plate is full of books to digest where I can fall asleep under a sheepskin blanket in a covered wagon in 1835 or drop down a rabbit hole and meet the queen of hearts.  There are sword fights ahead of me, seas to sail, ninjas, and (of course) a Chuck Norris biography.   Time travel is possible between the hard covers of books, where pterodactyls fly, babies grow up on Mars, and the Titanic floats.  With the time I have left, I’ll be riding camels in the dessert, panning for Gold in the Yukon, and embracing biographies.

 



 

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