During my first five months living with Mom and Dad and commuting to and from Sandy and Tooele, from August 1 to January 1, I have enjoyed listening to many amazing books, which have enriched my life tremendously, and have made the time and expense of commuting a blessing in disguise. I have enjoyed sharing these books with Mom and Dad and my children, sometimes just some stories, sometimes the books themselves. I looking forward to “reading” many more. How abundant good books make the world.
- Hidden Figures (Margot Lee Shetterly, 2016)
- How Will You Measure Your Life? (Clayton Christensen, 2012)
- Beyond the One-Hundredth Meridian (Wallace Stegner, 1953)
- How To Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie, 1936)
- Alexander Hamilton (Ron Chernow, 2004)
- Becoming (Michelle Obama, 2018)
- Amos Fortune: Free Man (Elizabeth Yates, 1950)
- The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Kamala Harris, 2019)
- The Pioneers (David McCullough, 2019)
- The Great Bridge (David McCullough, 1972)
- Searching for Joy (C.S. Lewis, 1955)
- The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (C.S. Lewis, 1941)
- Simply Jesus (N.T. Wright, 2010)
(Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay)
I awoke at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for work. Noticing the glow from the living room lights, I looked over the railing and saw Dad still in his recliner, covered with a crocheted afghan, still reading his book. “Hi Dad,” I whispered down to him. “Are you going to go to bed soon and get some rest?” He looked at the clock, looked up at me, and nodded a sleepy smile. To be up all night was unusual. It must have been a compelling book. Often, I will awake at 2 or 3 a.m., needing to use the restroom, and Dad will be reading, or sometimes sleeping with the open book on his lap. As much as he loves reading late into the night, the later he reads the less he sleeps and the worse he feels. An all-nighter can ruin his energy for all of the next day. One day when he seemed to feel particularly sick and weary, I asked him, “How do you feel today, Dad?” “I feel awful,” he said. “I was bad last night and read until 3:30 before I went upstairs to bed. Now I’m paying the price.” I remonstrated with him for associating the word “bad” with an activity he loves, which keeps his mind sharp, which enriches his life. “There’s nothing bad about it,” I reassured him, adding that the later he read, the more he would need to rest, perhaps. “What do you think about going to bed before midnight tonight?” I suggested. “I just can’t do it,” he craved. “I have to read, or my day will not be complete, and I won’t be able to sleep.” Read on, Dad.
Don’t hate me, but for the last six years, my commute was only three miles each way. For the 18 years before that, it was only 12 miles. All of a sudden, my commute is two hours a day, longer in heavy traffic or bad weather. Knowing how quickly I would become frustrated with that fruitless occupation, I began listening to audio books. (I can’t even eat breakfast without a book propped open on the kitchen table.) First I listened to the second volume of Saints, a new history of my church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a troubled history haunted by murderous mobs and failed legal systems and unimaginable personal suffering as tens of thousands of the faithful walked a thousand miles beginning in 1847 to find unmolested freedom in Utah. I listened to C.S. Lewis’ harrowing memoir Searching for Joy, which left me scratching my head. I loved David McCullough’s Pioneers, the tale of the 1790s settlement of the Northwest Territory, beginning in Marietta, Ohio. Then came Michelle Obama’s beautifully-written and touching memoir, Becoming. And on my 90th day after the move, I finished today Ron Chernow’s masterful meticulous comprehensive biography Alexander Hamilton—what a remarkable man! Far from being a waste of time, my long commute has proven to be an incredible enriching inspiring educational experience. I munch on raisins to stay focused and awake as the road stretches ahead and the narrator drones on. I have ordered and shared my favorites with Dad, who reads Obama and McCullough and listens to Villa-Lobos and Mathis long into the night while I am sound asleep. Next will be McCullough’s story of the Roeblings and their great Brooklyn Bridge.
Dad’s hobby is reading. He is the smartest man I know, reading biography, theology, philosophy, history, fiction, science, etc. He indulges his hobby from 10:30 p.m. until at least 2:00 a.m., every night. One night’s literary fare may be the Book of Mormon, the Bible, or other scripture. Another night may be The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels or Rumpole of the Bailey stories. Often he reads the World Book Encyclopedia, the next day telling me everything he learned during the night. Did you know nectarines spontaneously appeared on a peach tree in China over two millennia ago? Other days he reads books his children gave him for his birthday or Christmas, when book gifts are a sure thing. During those late-night reading hours, Dad listens to the music of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, particularly his Bachianas Brasileiras (my translation: Brazilian musical pieces after the manner of Johann Sebastian Bach). Having been a missionary, post-graduate student, minister, and international lawyer in Brazil, he loves Brazilian music. And he loves the Brazilian people. In 1971, while finishing the sweat equity on the new Baker house in New Jersey, a cassette tape of the Bachianas kept him company. At a particular point in Bachiana No. 7, an electrifying sensation suddenly swept through him, a visit from a spiritual plane, and he knew somehow that he would be asked the following year to take his family to Brazil to oversee the Church’s missionary work. The impression came to pass, and our little family went to Brazil for three years— I was eight years old. I, too, love the Brazilian people, and the food, and the language, and the music. Villa-Lobos—what a cool-sounding name—and it has a fun meaning as well: city of wolves. Heitor City of Wolves. Bachiana No. 7—at counter 16:55 in the Tocata/Desafio. World Book Encyclopedia: N for Nectarine. Two a.m. and all is well.
Like I have told you before, Sunshine and Amy are inseparable.
Having enjoyed a hot bath, it’s time to chill on the couch in a hair-drying towel and read a book together.
Sunshine, not knowing how to read (yet), is content to listen and gaze off into imagination.
I think he is growing long and stout under all Amy’s pampering!
Sunshine is always up for Sunday Story Time.
And Amy loves to read.
The more books the better.
When Amy reads , Sunshine is all in, especially when the book is about his reptile cousins.
They are both enjoying Lyle, Lyle the Crocodile.