A year or two ago, my sister gave me the book Blue like Jazz by Donald Miller. The book chronicles Miller’s life, his relationship with God, and his struggles with a whole host of issues that many men in Generation X face.
Politically, I have very little in common with Miller but our lives have many similarities, therefore, I am able to find a great deal of commonality with him. He has become one of my favorite writers because his reflections on his own life compel me to reflect upon my own life. The great American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said that books are tools to unlock inspiration; Miller is one of the authors that inspire me.
The other thing I like about Miller’s writing style is that he has a self-deprecating, sarcastic sense of humor. I use a similar style in my political writing because if we can’t laugh at the fools we elect to represent us, the only recourse would be to live life in a perpetual state of angst at the stupidity which emanates from the halls of our government; but I digress.
When I read a good book, even novels, I find myself making notes in the margins, underlining significant passages or diction. If I run out of room, I write on sticky notes, which I leave protruding from the pages like a bookmark so I can find inspirational passages quickly. It the book is truly outstanding, I often get out my journal and just free-write all of the thoughts that it spawned.
I continue to try and pass my love of reading on to my children although neither has shown a particular proclivity towards reading but, then again, neither did I at that age. In school I didn’t care for many of the books that we were forced to read. Then again, I didn’t really like being told what to do at all at that age unless it had to do with sports.
I was just a little younger than my oldest son when I heard my father and his business partner talking about Tom Clancy’s masterpiece, The Hunt for Red October, at lunch one day. When I left for Army Basic Training, I picked up a copy to read on the trip to Fort McClellan. I was hooked. The military techno-thriller unlocked my passion for reading and the rest is history…. So to speak.