I don’t have much time to read anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try. Some nights it is just too much at the end of a day to do any more than a few pages. Other times, like Thursday night of this week, I get started early and can make some progress in a book.
Because I get mailed books from publishers for my radio work, books that I don’t solicit, I always have a lot of them around. I am not interested in most of what they send. A lot of the books are self-help type titles that are just variations on a theme. Once in a while, one comes along from a publisher that is really interesting. One arrived last week entitled, Life in Year One: What the World Was Like in First-Century Palestine by Scott Korb. It wasn’t a long book so it wasn’t intimidating, and one night I picked it up.
The book was a fascinating look at life in the time of Jesus, although the author takes pains to point out that the book is not about Jesus. (It is not written from a Christian viewpoint.) It answers questions about what people ate back then, what their houses were like, what hygiene was like (there wasn’t much…), health and medicine, war, death and marriage and so forth.
It is a great subject and something I have wondered about many times. Maria Von Trapp wrote on the topic in, Let Me Tell You About My Savior, and also When the King was a Carpenter. As she points out, we as Christians should be curious about what the life of Jesus was like and how he and his earthly family lived. I learned much about Jewish customs from reading Von Trapp’s books and caught a glimpse of what Jesus’ boyhood must have been like.
Another book I bought recently is, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future. I’m still working my way through that one. It is extremely depressing to see how reading books among young people today has almost been obliterated. Celebrity news, Twitter and Facebook updates on high tech phones is about it now. As a result, literacy and real knowledge in key areas are disappearing.
I wonder if such damage will ever be repaired as instant digital communication is reported to even affect the wiring of the brain. How do you go back to the joys of reading a book that requires concentration when the ability to concentrate has been destroyed in our digital age?
This I week I read Taylor Caldwell’s novel, Melissa, from the late 1940’s. The book was a page turner in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time. The reason was the subject matter and the characters crafted by the author which drew me in. This was no formula novel with predictable characters. It told the account of a family where the father nearly destroyed his children. The way that the family’s eyes were slowly opened after his death made for quite a story. The lead character, Melissa, seemed damaged beyond repair by the influence of what she thought was a loving father. He was, in fact, evil in a subtle way that devastated his family.
I won’t spoil it for you in case you want to read it. I thought about how destructive families can be where pride and unhealthy relationships go unchecked, and what a responsibility it is to create a healthy emotional life for children in a home.
I would write more here, but I have to get to the library this quiet Saturday afternoon to return a stack of books I never got to read. In that overdue fines are my besetting problem, I intend to avoid them this week.
P.S. I intend to write more on this at a later date, but sadly, libraries are changing with the times and many of the good old novels are disappearing as they are deemed no longer relevant or they fall apart and go out of print. Besides buying as many used copies of good books online as I can for Emmy some day, I was thinking about what fun it would be to have a private lending library where readers could pay a small annual fee.
You could stock the shelves with the good old books exclusively, even if you had to reinforce old book bindings with duct tape (ha ha), so those who love the old authors who are out of fashion these days could still borrow them. None of the vulgar, profane, depressing new stuff allowed on those shelves. I could add a coffee shop on and have literary discussion groups on the old books…well, I’m getting carried away, but wouldn’t that be fun?