My first memory of the beauty and mystery of written words is at my 4th birthday party. After playing in the backyard, my friends and I sat around my mother as she read selections from various Dr. Seuss books. I was captivated. And I have been captivated by novels, essays, poems, and short stories since then.
Emily Dickinson considered the power of a book to let us escape from the mundane, everyday surroundings into our soaring imagination in “There Is No Frigate Like A Book.” She compared books to various means of transportation which carry us away into unknown lands. As a youngster, I traveled with Rick Brant, a boy scientist, Chip Hilton and his colorful athletes, Tom Swift Jr., a host of Robert Lous Stevenson’s villains and heroes, and too many comic book heroes to name.
Growing older I went through my science fiction stage, my British secret agent phase, my historical fiction fling, and my horror stories indulgences. I flirted with Frost, Browning, and Whitman, chuckled with Twain, Updike, and Heller. Went existential, briefly, and solved many, many mysteries with Christie, Doyle, and Hammett.
Now, daily I make do with a few newspapers a day, a magazine or two, at least one novel, and, of course, the internet. What amazingly diverse things to read, what astonishingly numerous sources there are to explore in the web. Were it not for my increasingly creaking lower back, I’m sure I could spend countless hours in front of a glowing screen.
Francis Bacon declared in an essay that, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Oh, how I have tasted, swallowed, chewed and digested so many, many books. And what a richer man I am for it. Bacon also said, “Reading maketh a full man.” This, I believe.
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