Not since a youth of summer Sundays have I indulged my love of reading to this extent. Thousands of pages, thousands of miles, memory, triumph, despair — this, too, is my work: to make a better man with a salt-pinch of tender wit and common understanding. Sandburg’s Lincoln, Boswell’s Johnson, Joyce in another tongue; The Vicar of Wakefield, Shakespeare, Addison, Browning, Pope; A Magnificent Farce and Other Diversions of a Book Collector; James Whitcomb Riley, George Moore, Elbert Hubbard, Samuel Butler, Anatole France; Literary Haunts and Homes of American Authors; Zola’s Appeal for Dreyfus — all, and more, and yet, “I have not begun to read.”
Have you noticed how time online can be a desperate, frantic thing with worried wings?
A week in a quiet room with books will set things right. A month will serve as rain, and restore in you the pace and wisdom of wheat fields.
Make a list: if yours is the first name on it, read about the slave ships, their stink and woe burning your nostrils five miles downwind. Don’t stop until you’ve lived it.
Remember: what passes for news is something bought and sold. Don’t you, in reading it, believe it; don’t you be “tricked and sold and again sold.”
Whatever you do, do it from a deep place that knows joy and suffering.
And if you think you know all you need to know, climb those library steps, and see if, in the far window, outside on the ledge, two sparrows aren’t searching twigs and shelter to build their nest.
One to the other: “I love you. Let’s read this one next.”