Read The Book!

What book?  Any book, because Friday, my friends, was National Read-a-Book Day!  When I made this discovery on Thursday night, I told daughter Chris not to expect any house chores to be done that day, for Miss Goose and I would be spending the day reading!  The reality, of course, was that we both proceeded to spend our days in much the same manner as always, but I did manage to finish one book and read about 100 pages in another.

I am a multi-book reader, meaning I always have at least two going at any given time, and sometimes as many as seven are works-in-progress and thus stacked on my bed.  I keep trying to limit myself to two at a time – one fiction, one non-fiction.  But then, something catches my eye, and before you know it, I’m hooked on yet another.  My only regret is that there aren’t an additional six hours or so in a day to spend curled up with a book.

I recently read a synopsis of former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ new book, Call Sign Chaos:  Learning to Lead that just came out last Tuesday.  In it, he discusses his lifelong love of reading.  A few of is thoughts on the topic …

“If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you. Any commander who claims he is ‘too busy to read’ is going to fill body bags with his troops as he learns the hard way.”

“Reading sheds light on the dark path ahead. By traveling into the past, I enhance my grasp of the present.”

“Living in history builds your own shock absorber, because you’ll learn that there are lots of old solutions to new problems. Strategy is hard, unless you’re a dilettante. You must think until your head hurts.”

“I followed Caesar across Gaul. I marveled at how the plain prose of Grant and Sherman revealed the value of steely determination. … Biographies of … Native American leaders, of wartime political leaders and sergeants, and of strategic thinkers from Sun Tzu to Colin Gray have guided me through tough challenges.”

Smart man.  A former coworker and friend once told me, when I was discussing something I was reading one day, that she hadn’t read a book since high school … at the time, we were both in our late 40s, so that meant she hadn’t read a book in thirty years!  My jaw hit the floor.  I simply cannot imagine it!

A few days ago I came across an article in Mental Floss titled Six Benefits of Reading Every Day.  The six are …

  1. Reading can boost intelligence
  2. Reading helps increase empathy
  3. Reading can lower stress
  4. Reading may change your brain
  5. Reading is an excuse to put your phone away at night
  6. Reading helps families bond

I probably could have thought of a different list, but still … all the above are good enough reason to turn off the television and pick up a book, yes?

And then, there is the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office.  Let’s hear what he says about books and the joy of reading …

  • “I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.” – 2016
  • He said that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.” – 2016
  • “I’m a very efficient guy. Now, I could also do it verbally, which is fine. I’d always rather have — I want it short. There’s no reason to do hundreds of pages because I know exactly what it is.”
  • “I just don’t have the time. … I would love to sit down and read a book, but I just don’t have the time anymore.”
  • “Every time I do about half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. I don’t get to read very much.” – 2017
  • “I like bullets, or I like as little as possible. I don’t need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page.” – 2017

His words speak for themselves, don’t you think?

So, if you missed out on Friday’s National Read-a-Book Day, take a rain check and celebrate properly on Sunday!  I plan to!