Our daughter visited us for an early Thanksgiving. As naturally as day follows night, I asked, "What are you reading these days?"
"Oh Dad," she replied, "I'm too busy to read. Who's got time anymore?"
I would have preferred to hear that she planned to get 666 tattooed across her forehead, or that she is eloping with the current lout. But no such luck; I've raised kids that would rather IPOD, MySpace or YouTube than make time for a book--and I need to get over it, I guess.
Thankfully, I can count on my friends to honor and satisfy my book Jones. "What are you reading these days?" I asked Jean Elderwind, Eureka Spring's irrepressible librarian.
"By far, my favorite book this year was People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks," Jean tells me. "This story traces the journey made by a rare book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, from the present to the distant past. Brooks threads vignette to vignette in a backwards look at the mindlessness and tragedy of religious persecution, as well as the richness of societies now gone. I love books that weave history with fiction and this book does all that. Geraldine Brooks is a master at what she does. Oh, the final chapters of this novel are unbelievable!"
Dr. Fred Mayer, the famous Musician Farmer, says, "I continue to be impressed with the Storey Publication Guidebooks regarding animal husbandry. They contain the "how to" science of why certain aspects of flock/herd development are important. I'm on my 2nd of the series. For the small farmer, these books are a staple reference for any home library."
My good friend Sharon Sloan, who lives just west of the Kings River Bridge and does remarkable things with computers, recommends Flight of the Hummingbird: a Parable for the Environment by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. This little book--it's only 64 pages long--"is a really inspiring story about a very determined hummingbird who challenges a raging forest fire. The story originated with the Quechan people in South American and the Haida people in the North Pacific area. A small book, yes, but full of big ideas."
Paul Andresen, author of the very funny and quirky blog 'Fat Man in the Bathtub' and shepherd to Berryville's Presbyterians, has just finished reading Credo, by William Sloan Coffin, who some of us may remember from the anti-war Movement in the early '70s. Paul quotes Coffin, who writes "Had Jesus heeded both his parents and the religious authorities of his day, instead of saving the world he would have become the best carpenter in Nazareth. Were our children to heed us and the religious authorities of our day, they'd all become nicely packaged citizens--safe, polite, and obedient."
Dr. Jim Young, Eureka's Resident Metaphysician and world renowned bon vivant, recommends Consciousness Transformed by Joel S. Goldsmith. "This wonderful book focuses on spiritual meaning from a variety of perspectives and is one of the most powerful books of this kind available. It is penetrating as it wipes away false images of outer authority in favor of inner Truth."
Registered Nurse and former Emergency Paramedic Brent Updegraff loved Cormac McCarty's The Road. "This book would be pure misery if it wasn't so well-written," Brent reports. "The sheer awfulness of the story--a boy and his father trek across a wet, corpse-strewn, post apocalyptic world--is really a beautiful love story about fathers and sons. Please read this book!"
Dale McCurry, publisher of Wellspring, recommends To Kill a Mockingbird. "I believe that Harper Lee wrote the single most important novel in our literary history," Dale says. "Not only is the story one we all need to know and heed, but the writing is exquisite and transcendent."
"The Eleventh Man, by Ivan Doig," says Carol Ann Engskov, Berryville's Librarian, "is about a man writing propaganda for the US Armed Forces during World War Two. His focus is on the war-time exploits of former teammates of a Montana university football team, who all arrive at one tragic end or another. This is a simply riveting book about the Greatest Generation."
Kate Lucariello, intrepid 'Carroll County News' reporter says, "I recommend the Ranger's Apprentice young-adult series by John Flanagan. Book #5 has just been released. This is a series of "long ago and far away" feudal society tales, loosely based on the British isles, whose plot centers on the training of a young man to become a "Ranger," learning bow, knife, horsemanship, diplomacy and intelligence skills. The characters are drawn with humor and depth and the pacing keeps everything moving, with a good mix of character development and dramatic action."
So there you have it: our children may let us down, but there is always the consolation of a good book to read. Happy Holidays!