Leather Chair Reading!
“I hope there’s well stocked book shelves in heaven with a soft leather chair nearby!” Leroy I. Jorgensen
My father chuckled softly as he uttered this sentence when I visited him on his 88th birthday–three days before he died of myelocytic leukemia.
One of my fondest memories growing up was coming home and seeing my dad reading to my mom–either from the newspaper or a good book they’d picked out to read together. My mom was usually folding laundry or mending clothes, but as my dad read, it would spark some of the most interesting conversations between my parents that I often learned more about current events and literature listening to them than any school class I was enrolled in at the time! Gratefully, much like my father, I also enjoy reading. Even after I moved away from home and had a family of my own, my dad and I would choose a book to read together, then share our insights with each other after we’d both finished it.
“Those who will not read a book are no better off than those who cannot read a book!” Mark Twain
In this computer age where there is such ready access to instant media at our finger tips, it’s easy to get caught up in the popular, abbreviated forms of information; I often catch myself being lulled in too. It only takes pulling out one of the books I received from my parents off a bookcase in my family room that bears the stamp on the inside cover: From the library of Roy and Merle Jorgensen, and I’m reminded again of the wonderful world of adventure and knowledge waiting to be discovered through a good book! The idea of this new series is not to give formal book reviews per say, but to simply introduce good books that I have had the privilege of reading–many will be timeless literary gifts that I read with my parents when they were still alive, then you can decide if they’d be interesting to you. When I’m figuring out a movie to see, I mostly just want an overview about the plot and storyline, then I can decide for myself if I want to go see it or not. I want to do the book version of that here. I’d also love to have guests tell about their favorite books in future posts!
“The Measure Of A Man” by Sidney Poitier
This was the last book my dad and I read together before he became ill. One of my father’s favorite movie’s was “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” with Sidney Poitier. My favorite movie growing up was “To Sir, With Love” which also starred Sidney Poitier; when his autobiography came out, I knew this was a “must read” for us!
Sidney Poitier relates stories about his childhood while growing up on Cat Island in the Bahamas. He credits his parents for “helping him learn self worth and to be uncompromising in his values and eventually play roles where characters he played said something positive, useful and lasting about the human condition.”
If you are familiar with Sidney Poitier and his movies, you know what a classy, humble man he is–I love his voice! Mr. Poitier talks about the many and varied experiences in his life when the issues pertaining to African American rights at the time seemed destined to thwart not only his livelihood, but his character as well–the values talked about in his book, “The Measure Of A Man” are ones you want to emulate yourself, as well as teach your children!
“In The Name Of Hope And Sorrow” by Noa Ben Artzi-Pelossof
This was a book my father and I read together when I first headed off to start college life and was becoming more and more acquainted with the fact that a whole world existed beyond my small scope of things, where war and unrest was oftentimes a common experience for many young people growing up in their county’s quest for peace!
My dad always had a zeal for studying the Middle East and the many conflicts that transpired in that land between the Jews and Arabs. He taught classes on these topics and he and my mom had the fortune of living in Israel for nearly two years as he helped to represent the good of America while helping to negotiate a sizable land purchase by one of our local universities for a study abroad program. I think this book made such a huge impression on me because the author was so close to my own age, but seemed much wiser due to the many hardships she had endured while growing up in a country that was always in turmoil because of their ongoing conflict with Lebanon. Noa writes about the close relationship she had with her grandfather, Yittzhak Rabin, and how his renowned leadership shaped so much of her young adulthood.
Since my father enjoyed a rich relationship with many government and local Jewish leaders while living in Jerusalem, along with the help of many other influential representatives, he was able to see the purchase of the land for the study abroad school come to fruition. My dad often talked about the wise and scholarly people of both the Jewish and Arab communities and told me that he dearly wished that they’d both just learn to get along with one another so they could prosper and grow together as strong nations! More than anything, this book taught me to be more understanding of other religions and ways of life!
At the beginning of this year, my good friend and neighbor had the foresight to start up a book club. Recently we finished reading “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.
If you want a renewed passion for seeing people for who they really are and not what they look like, this book does it in spades! “Wonder” is also told from the viewpoint of children, which in my estimation, is often the most delightful of perspectives! Every family would benefit from reading this book with their children!
I hope this first “Leather Chair Reading” entry inspires you to remember some of the great books that have had an iimpact on your life and that you’ll share them with us!
No matter our chosen spot to read, it’s my wish that we’ll all enjoy reading some good books that inspire us to live better!