August 9 is birthdate of my father, who was born in 1927.
It’s also Book Lover’s Day.
Those two seemingly incongruent circumstances actually have a powerful connection for me.
After suffering a major stroke on February 10, 2012, my father passed away on February 25. By the time I was able to get back to Tennessee to see him, he had lost motor functions and speech capacity. Over the few days I was there, the slow but steady decline continued.
I had last seen him during the Christmas holidays. While there, I spent some time alone at home with him. After suffering a series of strokes over the past several years, he could no longer read – but the legacy of his reading lined the bookshelves all over my boyhood home. In the quiet hours when everyone was asleep, I scanned the shelves and remembered hearing him talk about this book or that one. I pulled a few off the shelf, and opening them, was instantly transported back in time to a conversation about the subject, or to memories of the event itself.
I’ve been a reader of books since, well, before I can remember. My father was an avid reader, and he passed that passion along to me at an early age. Even though he worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, he often spent several hours reading at night. He insisted my mother take my brother and me to the library in the next town and check out books – every two weeks. I would get the maximum number of books, take them home, and read them – usually in the first day or two. Then it would be an impatient wait till the next library trip.
Reading is a passion I treasure, and one that I am thankful my father instilled in me.
Tuesday August 9 will be Book Lover’s Day – not an official holiday but one I eagerly celebrate. Book reading is a great hobby. It’s an important one, too. Employers look for it on resumes. Reading is educational, informative, and relaxing. It makes us both smarter and happier people.
Book Lover’s Day is a great day to celebrate. Just grab an interesting book, find a quiet, cozy place, and crack open the cover. Celebrating Book Lover’s Day in August is pleasurable on the deck, under a shady tree, poolside, or in a cozy hammock. If you fall asleep while reading, that’s okay. It’s all part of the relaxing benefits of being a book lover.
I love (and practice) the 4 different levels of reading as espoused by Mortimer Adler in his great book, How to Read a Book, but I really like to latch onto a topic and practice synoptical reading. Also known as comparative reading, it is where many books are read, and placed in relation to one another and to a subject about which they all revolve.
For many years, an ongoing topic of synoptical reading has been about Walt Disney and the “kingdom” he founded. My current Disney library is over 450 books – and I’m still actively researching the subject, and discovering new authors and books regularly. Here’s a few of my latest acquisitions:
In addition to the pure enjoyment of reading on the subject, these books provide a constant reference for illustrations when I’m writing about Guest Experiences.
In addition to Disney synoptical reading, I’ve always got small threads of other, diverse, synoptical reading going on, often spurred by long-running interests and subsequent book searches. For example, have you ever heard of Fred Harvey? Many people haven’t – yet this English-born immigrant moved to America at a young age in the mid-1800s, and subsequently developed a hospitality empire that stretched across much of the U.S. from Chicago west to the Pacific Coast. And he built it in lock-step with the growing railroad industry. Fred Harvey was Ray Kroc before McDonalds, J. Willard Marriott before Marriott Hotels, Howard Schultz before Starbucks, and Walt Disney before Disneyland. The common theme? Harvey created a hospitality industry along the rails of the Western U.S. that influenced the development of organizations over the next 100+ years that themselves are now renowned for hospitality. Here are a few books with Harvey’s story:
One of the greatest contributors to my synoptical reading was an Auxano project, 8+ years in the running, that ended in 2021. You can read about it here.
Even with that big change in my reading habit, there’s always a book at hand!
There’s current reading for Auxano social media (Tweets, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook posts), other internal Auxano writing projects, and believe it or not, reading just for the pleasure of reading – a nightly occurrence. Currently a few topics I’m reading for pleasure include: ongoing research into the concepts of hospitality in the home (what I’ve termed,”First Place Hospitality”); tracking the development of hospitality concepts in the U.S; the collected works of Wendell Berry; select works about the future and all that entails; and of course, there’s always some Disney history in the mix!
So, on Book Lover’s Day, and in memory of my father, I’m trying to emulate Thomas Edison, who believed that voracious reading was the key to self-improvement. He read books on a remarkable range of subjects to address his endless queries. As Edison noted, “I didn’t read a few books, I read the library.”
If you want to know more about my dad, here is the eulogy I gave at his funeral. After the funeral, while my sons and I were moving some things around his gas station, I discovered one reason I am so passionate about guest experiences. And read this post to find out why readers are leaders.
How are you celebrating Book Lover’s Day?