Read any Good Books Lately?
The world's wisdom is more available to us these days than ever before. In this past year I've read the journal of Marcus Aurelius, the Tao te Ching, James Hollis's An Examined Life, and Seth Godin's The Practice, among others. It's part of my morning routine. I take my second cup of coffee into the living room and sit in my favourite chair by the window. I read a bit, but only until something grabs me. I think about it for awhile, and then I write in my journal.
When I used to read my Bible daily, this is when I did it. It was an on again / off again sort of thing, which had nothing to do with the subject matter and a lot to do with my impatience to get on with my day. There's something about early morning that invites reflection. You haven't done enough yet to wreck the day, and your heart and mind are open for inspiration, before your actions take you off and running.
Afternoon reading is different, and was something I rarely did as a parish priest. I often wanted whiskey, not words, in the hour or so between my last appointment and suppertime. But occasionally, on a day off, I found the late afternoon ideal for the bigger, meatier reads. That's when I might take a cup of tea and immerse myself in Jung, or mark up one of James Hollis's difficult books. In retirement, I love this time of day, finding my way back to my chair to pick up where I left off, most recently on Lewis Hyde's gem of a book called, The Gift, a study of creativity.
Bedtime is for fiction and for the lighter stuff. Having read many of the early writers from the New Yorker, I've recently been introduced to Joseph Mitchell, the NYer's profile writer who inspired the description "literary journalism." I read at night for the quality of the writing and the engaging appeal of the story. But bedtime reading is unforgiving. If a book sends me off to sleep in less than a page, it doesn't last long on my bedside table.
All this will interest you only insofar as it reflects, encourages, or perhaps inspires your own reading habits. I hope it does one of those three. Because reading is a gift. We used to call the Bible "the Good Book." In truth, we know there are many Good Books. They excite our imagination, deepen our wisdom, and suggest a more wondrous universe than any one book could ever do.
So ... which books would you choose to accompany you on your desert island? Can you list, say, six? What words of others are the reflection of your own wisdom?
Next Week: Favourite Books
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