Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Books

From the latest copy of The Inlander, here is an except from the commencment address David McCullough gave at UConn in 1999. This story could be almost be a mantra for my life, sort of.

"My message is in praise of the greatest of all avenues to learning, to wisdom, adventure, pleasure, insight, to understanding human nature, understanding ourselves and our world and our place in it.

I rise on this beautiful morning, here in this center of learning to sing again the old faith in books. In reading books. Reading for life, all your life.

Nothing ever invented provides such sustenance, such infinite reward for time spent as a good book.

Thomas Jefferson told John Adams he could not live without books. Adams, who through a long life read more even and more deeply than Jefferson and who spent what extra money he ever had on books, wrote to Jefferson at age 79 of a particular set of books he longed for on the lives of the saints, all 47 volumes.

... Once upon a time in the dead of winter in Dakota territory, with the temperature well below zero, young Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat, accompanied by two of his ranch hands, downstream on the Little Missouri River in chase of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized row boat. After days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester, at which point they surrendered. Then, after finding a man with a team and a wagon, Roosevelt set off again to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. He left the ranch hands behind to tend to the boat, and walked alone behind the wagon, his rifle at the ready. They were headed across the snow-covered wastes of the Badlands to the rail head at Dickinson, and Roosevelt walked the whole way, 40 miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in that eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina.

I often think of that when I hear people say they haven't time to read. "

So, next time you find that dusty and forlorn copy of Anna Karenina or its kind, no excuses.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Great story about a great man! Thanks for sharing.