There was a time in my life that if I was sitting, I was reading a book. I love books.
When I was eight, my parents rather rudely stopped me from watching television. There method was a little expensive. We moved from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia to an apartment complex just outside Saint-Avold in North Eastern France. Fortunately the Canadian government paid for the forced resettlement. (We moved 11 months later to another apartment complex, outside the town of Longuyon, France.)
TVs were a little too expensive for my family, so radio became my primary provider of mass media – I used to listen to the Ed Sullivan Show every Sunday night on a one week tape delay. Friday nights were spent at the base cinema (I’m an Air Force brat, if you haven’t figured that out) watching whatever was playing – flicks provided by the J. Arthur Rank Organization.
My primary source of entertainment, however, became books. The base library was my home away from home. Books purchased for special occasions were treasured by me. When we returned to Canada in 1968, I was almost thirteen. In Montreal, my Auntie Pearl, discovering that her nephew had become a bibliophile, gave me a number of Ayn Rand’s books to read. By the time I was 14, I could elucidate all the virtues of selfishness – having read all of Ms. Rand’s scribbling, including a rather awful play. (I confess that I skimmed over the 90+ page monologue of John Galt in Atlas Shrugged. I’d already been sufficiently indoctrinated.)
Even after being reintroduced to TV in ’68, I rarely watched it without a book in hand.
Today I am still an avid reader. But most of that reading takes place via pushed pixels illuminating my computer screen. Though I do admit that Amazon well knows my name.
But this post is about book theft – or what at least might be considered such.
Many years ago, I wandered into a friend’s home office. He was not noted for being a particularly deep reader. I scanned the small collection of books on his shelf. Pulling a number of them off, one at a time, I asked his opinion of each. He mumbled a non-committal response – I doubt he’d read any of them. With 8 or 10 books in hand, I asked if might “borrow them.” Surprised, he asked, “Why?” “Because they are mine,” I rather strongly responded.
About seventy feet from the kitchen window in our loft (across a small parking area and two narrow buildings) and down a story, is a window into the office of the senior leader of a church we once attended. There’s a wall of books in that office. (This leader is as avid a reader as I am.) At least twenty of those books are mine. I recently was heard to whine that fact in a room full of friends. My dear wife rather tartly responded, “Let it go, Bill. I doubt you still buy into the theology of those books, anyway.” Point taken. I haven’t been in that building since 1996 – and my theology has changed rather dramatically since then. (As have my political viewpoints since the late ’60’s – just not enough for some folk.)
Liam, a bibliophile of a higher magnitude than his dear old Dad, is occasionally known to comment about some of the theology found on the overflowing bookshelves in our home. Another cull is shortly in order. (I should once again note, that Liam, Rylan and Kaili suffered horribly from Imbi’s and my parenting when we cut off their access to TV when Liam, the oldest was seven. All three of them were forced to become avid readers. Tragic, I know.)
This meandering post was prompted by my pushed pixel reading of Ben Myers this Sunday morn. Ben’s post, On Stealing Books, is worth the read.
(Written at the island summer place on my first overnight of the season. Much later than normal. Though, as Bruce Cockburn puts it, The Trouble with Normal is it Always Gets Worse.)