I would make a lousy detective. Were I to witness a crime, I suspect I would never be able to recount the details to the police. However, I love reading detective stories and mysteries. Long ago I figured out that in spite of the fact that I never accurately identify the evildoer and am sometimes confused by the specifics of the plot, I love the repeated experience of being absorbed in a story where the characters are gradually accumulating information and enlightenment. I often think that the spiritual person is a kind of detective: God leaves us clues and when we study nature and human behavior, when we engage in prayer and celebration of the sacraments, we slowly begin to uncover the mystery of God.
It occurs to me that one of the enduring passions of my life is a love of books. I can spend hours in a bookstore or library and consider places where books are sold or loaned to be sacred places. I recently made a trip to New York City and visited for the first time the New York Public Library and had my photograph taken in front of it the way some people pose beside the Grand Canyon or Eiffel Tower! Although I inhabit a world where the gradual acquisition of knowledge has been replaced by the need for immediate, paperless information, I continue to revere the experience of a bound text. There is something almost indescribable about the heft, smell and texture of reading an actual book. The subtle pleasures of reading include the rustling of the pages, the transportation to a dreamlike state, the satisfaction of finishing a challenging story or the reluctant placing of a bookmark within the spine so one can return to the exact spot. All these moments are akin to oxygen for the bookworm.
I personally have no desire to scale Everest, or bust up a drug cartel or be rejected by the love of my life but the experience of reading allows me to safely enter these worlds and return to my own life enriched, entertained and expanded. What are you reading this summer? What are the books and stories that have changed your life or shifted your perspective? What is the book you would give as a gift?“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only once.” George R. R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons.