Did you feel this way SmartyGirls? When I was a junior high student, I’d dread the fall. Why? Because this meant less time than the summer for free reading.
Sure, I’d be assigned textbooks but this meant less time to read outside of a subject area. The pleasure of reading for me has been to look through someone else’s eyes. A healthy reading diet of fiction and non-fiction gives a person wider general knowledge and the habit of imagination helps cultivate compassion.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore in North Beach|
I had the honor of working for The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, as an Editorial Intern before I entered business school. One of the speeches I helped transcribed was a persuasive speech by Dana Goia from the National Endowment of the Arts. On June 2006, he spoke about The Importance of Reading.
If you are a SmartyGirl, I’m preaching to the choir. You already love reading.
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Historic San Francisco City Lights Bookstore of Beat Poetry Fame|
|Photo Credit: Renee Marchol Framed Newspaper Headline in City Lights Bookstore|
Last we week, I heard a speaker at another non-profit exhort his audience to acquire wisdom. He gave practical takeaways such as encouraging the audience to interview subject matter experts, listen to people tell their stories and make a concerted effort to get outside of one’s comfort zone.
For instance, I read biographies about people as unlike me as possible. Last year I read about the first wife of actor/dancer Gene Kelly. I have no reason to understand the life of a starlet but I wanted to know how she saw the world.
In another example, I read an autobiography of an Ivy League graduate who wrote about his experiences becoming a Thai boxer. One of his new habits included rolling a wine bottle on his leg to deaden the nerves so that he would become more insensitive to pain. There are some things I do not want to experience first hand but I am curious to know vicariously.
This fall, what will you choose to read now that you are no longer in school? I enjoyed Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, an award-winning book for children and the first four letters by Uncle Screwtape to his demon nephew Wormwood.
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars|
1. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
A girl’s father says that the King of Denmark can ride freely, without an entourage, because all of Denmark is his bodyguard. When the family’s Jewish friends are tormented by the Nazis, the girl wonders who will be bodyguards for her neighbors. Every citizen, young and old, male and female say they’d be willing to give up his/her life to protect the beloved king. Who might be willing to die to protect a fellow citizen?
This historical fiction helps the reader imagine the holocaust in a scale that is easy to understand and fathomable. An older sister and her fiancee operate as part of the Denmark Resistence against the Nazis and risk their lives to act as bodyguards for Jewish friends.
I selected this book because I miss my Jewish neighbors. Since I’ve moved to the San Francisco area, there are fewer encounters with Jewish culture. It sparked my memory when a new SF coworker mentioned Rosh Hashanah last week.
|Photo Credit: Amazon.com Clive Staples Lewis The Screwtape Letters|
2. Screwtape Letters by Clive Staples Lewis
You don’t know how these letters were compiled but you are reading the secret instructions of a mentor to his protegee. It’s a demon uncle writing to his hard-working demon nephew. Who is The Enemy? Who is the patient? Why might it be bad if the patient were to care for his mother’s rheumatism rather than spend all his time in self-absorbed prayer? This may interest Golden Compass Pullman Fans and Tolkien fans alike.
If you are ambivalent about Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a mermaid seeking a human soul, you might prefer Oscar Wilde’s The Fisherman and His Soul. Likewise, you may enjoy this comical and profound collection of letters just in time for Halloween. This is a fun read for fans of the movie satire, Saved.