Local view: Books don’t just help you gain knowledge, they give you the worldReading truly is a joy. Pursue it yourself. Encourage your family and friends.
By: Thomas B. Wheeler, for the News Tribune
Reading: what a wonderful pastime, mankind’s window to the world. What other development has led to more learning, enjoyment, knowledge and sharing of wisdom in such an efficient manner? I often pause and reflect upon my good fortune to have had parents who read to me, supplied me amply with books, set an example by reading themselves and took me to the library to repetitively expose me to books.
What a payoff.
Yet all was not easy. When I was a kindergartner, my parents were told I probably would never learn to read. “Tom is too active and cannot sit still long enough.” My mother, with her master’s degree in psychology, enforced naps by offering reading as an alternative to actually sleeping.
Now in my mid-60s and in the twilight of a business career, I have even more time to read. What a joy! I have embarked upon some classics, including Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and the “Complete works of Edgar Allan Poe,” two of the best books I ever read. Next up: four novels of Charles Dickens.
“Well-read” always has been an admirable quality with which to describe a person. There is genuineness and an authenticity to people who have spent time with books.
The joys of reading for me have extended to travel, shopping, self-help, language-learning and friends.
Travel and reading for me are virtually indistinguishable. When I travel (another of my favorite pastimes; while we are most fortunate to live in Duluth and experience Minnesota Nice, there truly is a fascinating world out there), I read. I read on planes, trains, buses and in cars.
I also learned from a good friend to take a book with me during my kids’ soccer and hockey games so I could read between periods and/or at halftime.
I know many people who read before taking trips to learn what to look for. Apart from reading Michener’s “Hawaii” or “The Covenant” before visiting Hawaii and South Africa, respectively, I prefer to observe and then read up later via books purchased on location.
That brings me to shopping, a task I detest — with the exception of bookstores. I scan best-seller lists, particularly enjoying historical fiction and biographies. I have read virtually all the books of recent contemporary bestselling authors like Nelson Demille, Lee Child, Robert B. Parker, Ken Follett, Brian Freeman, William Kent Krueger, Louis L’Amour, Tom Clancy, Leon Uris, Steve Hamilton, C.J. Box and others. We are truly fortunate to have some gifted regional writers.
Find a friend who reads and share your interests.
Join a book club.
Participate in the Duluth Public Library’s One Book One Community effort (“Clara and Mrs. Tiffany” is the “one book” to read as a community in 2013).
Having been widowed and divorced and with close relatives experiencing chemical dependency, I became “addicted” to certain self-help books and found them to be incredibly insightful. I have exposed myself not only to the Bible but to the Quran and extensive writings on Hindu and Buddhism.
We Americans live in a big world and do not have a monopoly on good ideas. There are far more similarities among us than differences, but differences provide wonderful learning opportunities. We can learn “patience from the impatient” and “tolerance from the intolerant,” as just two oft-quoted examples.
I had the good fortune to play four years of hockey in Europe. With some encouragement by teammates and friends, and with some wonderful language self-help books, I learned and retained both German and Swedish. I keep up on them now by watching German and Swedish films on Netflix.
Reading also has been a boon to my writing. Observing how different authors construct sentences and choose words and their contrasting styles has stimulated my own efforts.
Reading truly is a joy. Pursue it yourself. Encourage your family and friends. A lifetime learning opportunity and a window to the world waits.
Thomas B. Wheeler of Duluth is president of Wheeler Associates, an independent, family-owned employee-benefit and financial-planning firm, and is a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.