Out of every setback comes opportunity. If we are to stay indoors for months, then how can we use that to our advantage?
One way is to improve ourselves by reading at least one good book.
I was about 20, I think, when I resolved to work my way through “the classics”. Naively, I thought there might be a dozen, or so, books that would make me “well read”. It became apparent that there are thousands of good books and no agreement on what a “classic” is. Some say Dickens and the Brontes, some say Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemmingway. Some say the Hitchhiker’s Guide or Harry Potter.
I tried hard. I greatly enjoyed Orwell, was moved by Steinbeck, but couldn’t understand Faulkner. I’ve little idea what anyone sees in The Catcher In The Rye, was confused by Catch-22, but The Scarlet Letter left an indelible mark.
The biggest thing I discovered, though, is that I haven’t scratched the surface. There are libraries full of books I’ve not got to yet. I’ve never read a Salman Rushdie book, or Jane Austen. And lately I’ve been choosing history books or popular science books, and there are a lot of good ones, too. Try Beevor’s Stalingrad or Bill Bryson’s A Short History Of Nearly Everything.
I sometimes look at the popular science section and feel embarrassed by how much I clearly don’t know about, well, everything.
Get a Kindle, or download the Kindle app on your phone or tablet. There are gems for 99p.
If you do read a good book during this virus confinement, then I have a tip. Don’t read it alone. Get a friend to read it too. Or, better still, a relative. Then talk about it when you phone, skype or communicate by other electronic whizzmagiggery. I promise, discussing the adventures of Hester Prynne or Rose of Sharon will make a better conversation than: “Have you got enough toilet roll”.
If you have no one to discuss books with then tell me about it, or recommend a book to me. I might even be able to persuade The Courier editor to print some recommendations.
Best of all, if you can get a young person interested in a good book, then you’ll be giving a gift that will be an advantage to them for the rest of their lives. You’ll come out of these troubled times having made the world a better place.
Word of the week
To take off your head covering as a mark of respect. EG: “I vail my hat to workers of the National Health Service.”
Read the latest Oh my word! every Saturday in The Courier. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org