Saturday, June 4, 2011

Teach your kids to read

Brad here. I just got the urge to blog. I was getting my Daily Fix (by my SIL, Michelle) and catching up on some friends’ blogs and I had this thought that I should blog about the books I’ve read recently. Besides, I said to myself, our blog could use a break from all the awesome things our kids are doing.

About a year ago, my cousin Dave conducted a survey for a statistics project he did for his masters. He asked only two questions: how many books I read/yr and my level of education. I answered 5 books, but I could only really remember reading 3 (I counted reading the scriptures as one, and figured I must have read one other book). It made me realize that since law school and the bar exam I hadn’t done much reading for pleasure. It wasn’t that I was burned out of reading, it’s just that I kind of forgot what reading for pleasure was like. So, I set a loose goal to read more.

I discovered how cool the public library is here on base. They’ve got all kinds of books there! I started with a couple selections from the CSAF’s reading list, mostly geared toward leadership and military history (here’s CSAF’s current reading list if you care). Good stuff.

Then Uncle Aaron (Cassi’s brother) gave me The Rainmaker (later, for Christmas, he gave me a Volcom hoodie along with a book on coaching little league football (?), How to be Christian Without Being Religious (??) and a pretty cool book/cd set on the 100 greatest sports moments). Uncle Aaron was working part time for an online bookseller sorting books and filling orders. He turned into a pretty sweet hookup because before we knew it, Uncle Aaron filled our bookcase (see for yourself in the photo below). I asked him if he knew what embezzlement was (aka “cookin’ the books”) and if he knew it was illegal, and he assured me, just like Nixon, that he’s not a crook. So we owe Uncle Aaron a big thanks for supplying our year’s supply of reading material. (P.S. Uncle Aaron got married last month, and not to the girl who wrote this song about him).

Here are the many books we've got from Uncle Aaron. He gave us
the stack of books on the floor and most of the children's books on the shelf.

So, so far this calendar year, I’ve completed seven books and I'm working on two others, not counting the scriptures. 2 by Grisham, 2 from CSAF’s reading list, Let’s Roll and 2 philosophical works. The Grisham novels are great. I feel a little sheepish to admit that I loved these books. I am, after all, a lawyer; should I love novels about lawyers? (Do wizards like Harry Potter? Do vampires dig the Twilight Series?) How do I get past the gratuitous ex parte communications and over-simplification of the legal process? I don’t, really. I roll my eyes at those things, but the stories are just fun to read. I also learn things, like how to solicit clients from The Rainmaker (that was the first of the Grisham novels I read), how much money I could make running a newspaper from The Last Juror, and how cool it would be to be the illegitimate daughter of a multi-billionaire from The Testament (I also learned from that book: money ≠ happiness, antivenom is actually spelled antivenin).

My brother Victor aka Kyle got me back into philosophy recently. He took a philosophy course in his last semester at BYU-I and he realized how cool philosophy is. Actually, I think the course made him really glad he majored in Biology. But, his questions about the material he was covering in his class prompted me to acquire the textbook he was studying and follow along in his reading. I got to read passages of Kant, Hume, Locke, Ghandi, Dr. King (among others) that I hadn’t touched since I earned my undergrad. Working with Kyle made me realize that Philosophy is not something you should ever study by yourself. (I highly recommend “the buddy system” with philosophy.) Far more interesting to read a little and discuss a little. That’s why I haven’t touched the stuff since undergrad, because there’s no one with whom I can share my witty philosophical insights. Cassi’d rather eat mushrooms or turkey (these are a few of her (least) favorite things) than listen to me talk about the merits of the categorical imperative.

So, my philosophical revival led me to pick up The Four Loves by Clive Staples Lewis. I got this book from my friend Brooke about 6 yrs ago. Many people are surprised to learn that Lewis was a philosopher long before he created Narnia (by “many people” I mean “one person that I know of”). But it’s true, he's a philosopher (you heard it here first). This book explores the nature of love and what it means to love. He explores the four loves: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. It’s interesting, but mostly in an academic sense. I don’t refer to it in my daily experience.

Let’s Roll
is a book by Lisa Beamer, the widow of one of the individuals who died trying to wrest control of United Flight 93 from terrorists. I bought this book about 3 years ago at the Mesa Library (Dobson Road Branch) for like $5. It caught my eye because my Grandma liked it so much she did a book report on it for our family. It was a good book. I thought it would be more about kicking hijacking terrorists in the teeth, but it focused on dealing with adversity and cultivating in yourself the kind of character that stands up to hijacking terrorists. I was in Chile when 9/11 happened, so it was cool to read about how the terrorists didn’t completely win that day.

Reading’s fun. I highly encourage you to take it up if you haven’t. Or if you’ve recently finished law school, don’t forget about reading for pleasure.