Every season has it’s own unique opportunities. One that has been a part of summer, vacation, and travel, which has almost been forgotten by much of American culture is reading.
Once upon a time folks always traveled with a book.
Once upon a time men and women took pride in being well-read and able to converse on any subject; having an understanding and and a pleasure in books that has not been tasted by many in our current culture/generation.
But that need not be so. Anyone can pick up a book and change that. If you want to be well educated and go somewhere with your life reading extensively is a ticket to get you there. However most Americans don’t avail themselves of the opportunity.
“Only 30 percent of Americans ever read a book cover to cover following high school graduation. That is a phenomenal statistic. It’s devastating to folks who write books, and it’s a sad commentary on our education system. But what it means is that very few people are willing to stoke any kind of inner boiler at all. A friend of mine pointed out that to be successful you don’t need to be that much better than everyone else is, because everyone else is so mediocre: If you begin by reading just one book per year you’ll be in the top 25 percent of our culture by this measure. If you begin by reading a book per month, a much higher group.”¹
For myself I have a much higher goal than to just be “better than the mediocre”, I want to be great. One reason that many of us, including myself, have not read as much as we desire to, is not because of a lack of passions and interests, but rather a lack of time. I thought I was too busy to read much. Then I found out about the reading habits of Theodore Roosevelt; the man who lead an active and passionate life to the fullest. And all my reasons and excuses melted into nothing.
“By any measure Theodore Roosevelt was a remarkable man. Before his fiftieth birthday he had served as a New York state legislator, the under secretary of the Navy, police commissioner for the city of New York, US civil service commissioner, the governor of the state of New York, the vice president under McKinley, a colonel in the US Army, and two terms as president of the US.
In addition he had run a cattle ranch in the Dakota Territories, served as a reporter and editor for several journals, newspapers and magazines, and conducted scientific expeditions on four continents. He read at least five books every week of his life and wrote nearly fifty on an astonishing array of subjects–from history and biography to natural science and social criticism.
He enjoyed hunting, boxing, and wrestling. He was an amateur taxidermist, botanist, ornithologist, and astronomer. He was a devoted family man who lovingly raised 6 children. And he enjoyed a lifelong romance with his wife.”²
That inspires me. Isn’t it incredible? Every time I read about his life it always makes me resolve to find ways to use my time better, for after all we only have one life to live.
This summer, why not purpose to procure a stack of books, stick one in your travel bag, and fill your mind with something new. Make books a part of your EDC (Every Day Carry). Read them at home. Take them on your adventures.
¹Salatin, Joel, You Can Farm Polyface Inc. ©1998
²Grant, George, Carry A Big Stick Cumberland House Publishing Inc. ©1996