Good Books Make Great Friends
Throughout my life I have been so grateful that as a child I was encouraged to read and to appreciate the value of a good book. I recall as a teenager being so absorbed in a good story that I was oblivious to my surroundings for hours at a time. I know often my Grandmother assumed it was a ploy on my part to avoid helping with chores but it was never that. A book had the ability to so catch and hold my interest that I truly was unaware of whatever else was going on at the time. The fact that often this interfered with more mundane tasks was completely coincidental although I know Grandma never quite believed that.

 Perhaps because if Grandpa suggested going fishing or for a walk I always managed to hear him and  the books would be set aside with alacrity. Only time with Grandpa was so precious that nothing could interfere... not even a wonderfully engrossing story.

 As a child and as a teenager I considered the library to be among my favourite places and spent hours luxuriating in the treasures on the shelves of that mother lode of knowledge. I am certain the librarian often wondered if I was planning on taking up permanent residence as I was there so often. She did often encourage me to seek out new authors she thought might be of interest to me and was a mentor to whom I am still grateful. She introduced me to many new friends from whom I have benefited throughout my life.

 When one acquires a love of reading  one also learns  that being alone is  time to be cherished. So many dread being alone and avoid it at all costs but I have always welcomed those times as an opportunity to once more bury myself in a well worn book or much read novel always finding new ground previously missed or glossed over as I read. Certainly there are books which have not had the content  which held my interest from time to time but more often than not I have found gold between the covers of  a well chosen work from a familiar author. Discovering a new author to add to that collection is always such a bonus.

 Along with the pleasure there has also been an opportunity to learn so much in a manner which was far more interesting than simply absorbing the teachings from textbooks and teachers. Discovering on one's own is always an adventure and  reading has always provided ample opportunity to indulge in exploring. One thing it has given me is an open mind without the constraints of another's viewpoint influencing the input to the point of exclusion of  opposing views.

I recall  for example so well my introduction to the works of Allen Drury.  My interest was piqued by 'Advise and Consent' , a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and the first in a series which inspired a lifelong interest and curiosity  about American politics. I eagerly awaited each new volume in the series, each one providing an insight into the workings of a different branch of government or system as one followed the adventures of the continuing characters. I would venture I learned far more from those books than I had learned from my courses in American History as to the workings of government in the United States. The two year, on average, wait between volumes was impatiently endured as I eagerly waited to learn even more. I admit to a degree of disillusionment as Mr Drury's political bent changed  perhaps due to events which occurred in his country during those years. Those were difficult years for everyone as we witnessed  the assassinations of a President, his brother, and a man who offered hope to an entire race of people, the havoc created by a war which almost  destroyed the lives of an entire generation and saw alienation become a part of American life. We saw the youth of a nation lose hope and a shadow cast which has yet to be dispelled over a country which has always valued freedom and liberty above all. But despite his political evolution Mr Drury's books remain among my favourites even to this day.

 There are books which are written to enflame, scandalize or encourage division but one learns quickly which ones to avoid and which to savour and  add to the collection of  old friends to be revisited  when one wishes to indulge once more in a good, satisfying read. Some for light reading, some to encourage introspection and some from which we can expand our knowledge and  enhance our understanding. These books are never boring. Nor do they lose in the rereading. These are the books I would not have missed  discovering and for which I am so grateful. How I envy the skill of those authors and their very special gift.

 With today's busy world and so many electronic marvels from which youngsters obtain so much of their knowledge  a love of reading has become a distant second as a means of informing oneself and  I am convinced that  is a tragedy. A television program is transitory. A book is with you forever.  A good friend to turn to, and revisit at will, a source of knowledge, and a companion in those quiet times when solitude is cherished and  nourishment for the soul.  Educational standards have  been eroding  during the past several decades and one way to stem that tide is to give your child a love of reading. It will serve them well throughout their lives and provide lifelong companionship for which they will always be grateful.

 Discovering a new or previously undiscovered author  of substance can be a marvelous experience particularly when compared to so many present day scribes who are little more than political vultures spewing hatred masquerading as  literature. One very quickly learns the difference and avoids the sensational  as one savours the  work of the  superior author. There will always be choices to accommodate every taste and one has the luxury of being selective when adding to one's catalogue of good reading material.

My experience is that if a book is worth reading from cover to cover, holding my interest, and adding to my store of knowledge, it is one which merits revisiting  when the occasion arises and the time is there to properly pay homage to the work of the author. Many of these books have been read and reread through the years, losing nothing from familiarity and even offering fresh new insight each time I read them.

 One cannot possibly wish to avoid being alone so long as a good book is at hand. It is time so well spent and the company is excellent. I highly recommend it as a means of enriching your life which costs little in time and energy but which pays dividends you will not ever regret.

"To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge 
from almost all of the miseries of life." 

 ~  W. Somerset Maugham

"Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing." 

 ~ Cicero
 
 
 

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MIDI " Quiet Nights" courtesy of Les Gorven