Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. —Attributed to Groucho Marx
I never knew how much I'd love to fish. I mean, love it.
Actually, I am not a fisherman. Or a fisherwoman, for that matter. But I figured something out. My boys love to fish. I mean, L-O-V-E it. Which means I love it, too. You know why?
When they fish, I read! So, rather than kill two birds with one stone, we catch two fish at the same time, so to speak.
The boys spend hours doing what they love and me? I get to travel vicariously through many adventures of either my fictional characters' or learn a new perspective through one of my non-fiction books.
My kids love . This perfect size "pond" sits next to and sports enough shade to keep me cool, while I alternate walks around this small paradise and nose dive into my latest read.
Just this week, I logged hours into Jane Green's "Second Chance," a perfect first summer read that has me skipping between New York and London, whilst friends reunite after many years because of a tragedy. I love Green's fun fast-paced writing style that makes this chick lit a quick take off for other reads on my summer list.
At a time when books seem to be wagering war with the Wii, Facebook (love that, too) or anything else electronic, I can't help but fall in love each and every time I open up a new book or upload one to my iPad.
It saddens me that my own sons don't yet (I am still hopeful) grab a book off the shelf to read just for the pleasure.
I dare anyone to just find one book, one that they can get lost in where the magical process begins. And with anything that is enjoyable, one cannot help but want to repeat the experience.
The cool thing about reading is that each experience is uniquely different. And for me, with every book, I emerge slightly different than I was. As Charles W. Eliot once said, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."
There are too many wonderfully written books that I dare not waste a moment on something I do not enjoy. I am not a glutton and punish myself that once I start it, I must finish it. If I am not smitten by word number two, I am onto the next.
Even standing behind literary lioness Terry McMillan, well-known local author of one of my favorites "How Stella Got her Groove Back," at the in Danville, I stand taller in pride just knowing that I was in the company of someone that may love words even more than me.
For me, it all started when I was hospitalized with pneumonia in the sixth grade. "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" (better known to others as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) was one of the first major escapes that had me mesmerized from one page to another. I was in the glass elevator with Wonka and Charlie as they hurled through the top of the building and glided above the candy factory. I went on to consume many more of Roald Dahl's books after that.
Books are a great way to not only learn about the world around you — but to learn more about who you are and how you operate in the world.
One of the most pivotal books I've read is "The Four Agreements." And in many ways, it is how I try and operate in the world around me. The four agreements are a guidebook of personal conduct, if you will — lessons handed down from the author's Toltec ancestors. These four lessons are designed to improve your life and increase what Don Miguel Ruiz, the author states is "personal freedom." The Four Agreements are:
Be impeccable with your words.
Don't take anything personally.
Don't make assumptions.
Always do your best.
Try those on for even a week and you will see how it can not only be challenging but downright transformational as the focus is living in the moment and moving forward in a positive world. Whenever I have "tripped" in life emotionally, I guarantee it is because I have not adhered, to the best of my ability, to one, or more of those four agreements.
Reading has taught me many things that TV just can't. Not to mention, it is done at my pace so I can either soak it all up in one setting or over several periods. I can also stop and discuss something for better understanding without the words and ideas just being pummeled into my head without my being ready.
I'll leave you with one last quote about reading I find insightful and wish not only for kids but for you, too, throughout summer and always ...
"TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with 26. Open your child's imagination. Open a book." —Author unknown