Life, Liberty and Leadership

What are you reading?

As children we learn reading is important but sometimes as an adult I forget the joy that can come from delving into a really good book. 

As a kid I loved the Bookmobile. In our town it was a magic van going from school to school in the summertime so all us kids could go down for story time and pick up a few books to read. My favorite book then was “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

During middle school I was fortunate that my parents had invested in the Reader’s Digest Collection of books along with a children’s Bible. In my nights and free time my siblings and I read books like “Treasure Island,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.”

My mother even had a program where she had us kids sit in a circle and read these books out-loud as a family. I used to dread that but think now that it helped us kids build confidence. No doubt mom’s wisdom helped me and my siblings get over any fear of public speaking we might have.

After having read through the Reader’s Digest collection I found myself at the library that had an old musty smell. I remember the library being a place that everyone respected and I can hear the creaks of the steps as I descended down to the second floor basement where my then-favorite books were stored like Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontillado.”

In high school Mrs. Anderson’s literature class introduced me to writers like Henry David Thoreau, Daniel Webster and my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson’s Essay on Self-Reliance is as powerful today as it was then. Emerson wrote, “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance.”

Emerson’s answer to envy was faith in man’s self-reliance writing, “no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given him to till,” and “the power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he tries.” Life means trying.

When I moved to the San Francisco area one of my favorite bookstores was Stinson Beach Books. To get there I crossed the Golden Gate and drove over Mount Tam and through Muir Woods to get to the beach. The store was in an old cottage along the beach road.

The proprietor was a nice woman who made excellent recommendations. A few of my favorites included “Snow Falling on Cedars,” “The Poisonwood Bible,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.”

A few weeks ago I went to the bookstore at the Del Mar Heights Shopping Center to get a few new books.

I could have bought the books online but in doing so I would have missed out on walking through the rows and thumbing through pages.

I have found that in life books are important to our freedom, liberties, and personal growth and just for fun. Books can stimulate thoughts, change our way of living and bring a smile to our face.

So I ask what are you reading?