One for the Books

One for the Books

For whatever celebration, books have long been my favorite gift. From my birthday to Father’s Day and even Christmas, “the gift” is a plastic card with a big B&N stamped on it. For Father’s Day this year, I received a grand total of $260 in gift cards for Barnes & Noble from my extended family. 

To date I have bought nine books, but still have almost $75 remaining. I have saved at least $35 of it for Eric Erickson’s new book. For those who are unfamiliar with his name, he has a popular podcast, but more importantly he was the replacement for Rush Limbaugh after he died. I do not think he has as many syndicated radio stations as Rush did, but he is available on FM’s 95.5 here in Atlanta, from noon to three o’clock EDT, the same time slot Rush used to occupy.

Though Erickson can drop a funny line at times, he is far more serious, has some important insights and has a law degree to boot. However, I do not think he provides the same vast array of fascinating looks at insider politics as Rush. Surprisingly, as the former member of the Macon City Council approaches the 50 mark, he bears a strong physical resemblance to El Rushbo. But he is the best I am going to find because Rush’s shoes were just too large for anyone to fill. 

Sometimes I just drive around so I can listen to him longer. His book is right up my alley. It is entitled And Ye Shall Be Like Gods, the most important quote from the Book of Genesis, and the basis of at least three of my Journal posts. Unfortunately, it is not available at the B&N until near the end of the month. I am really surprised at this and almost shocked that my order is the only one they have gotten to date.

I just love books, especially new ones with bright, colorful book jackets. I have reminisced several times on this site about my love affair with the written word in book form. Something I may have missed in all the prior essays was that as a child I never liked to read. 

There were too many sports games, westerns, or comedy shows on television to compete with reading a book. We did not have a TV until May of 1951. The reason my parents finally got one was partly for entertainment but mostly to keep me home after school. I had a friend who lived near us, and we would watch his family’s TV until I had to go home for supper. This scenario repeated itself during the time I was home from college when my friend’s parents got a color TV set. I would grab a couple of beers and go over to his home, and we would watch baseball, live and in beautiful color on a Saturday afternoon during the summer.

With all that TV available, I never acquired the habit of reading. That changed significantly, at least for a while when even before the summer of 1957, my new school for the fall, Xavier High School, sent me a 10-book summer reading list. I attacked the list with relish and even added an 11th volume. Prior to that time, I think I had to read only two books in school and my mother had to finish both of them for me.

Other than a few Shakespearean plays, I cannot remember getting any kind of reading assignment in high school. The teachers relied on our weighty textbooks for literary content. My paucity of required books and lack of interest in reading for the pure pleasure of it had dire consequences for my development of a rich vocabulary. The Jesuit recruiter for Boston College told me that with my verbal score of 417 in my first taking of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) getting into his university would be difficult for me.

This bitter taste of reality was just the severe kick in the behind I needed to become more involved with reading good books. In the 11 months that followed my poor showing, I read 50 books. My second taking of the SAT showed a marked improvement. While my verbal had improved 92 points to a pedestrian 509, my math score, which had been 527, had skyrocketed to 647. 

At first that did not make any sense, until it dawned on me that the secret of answering any question is the ability to understand exactly what the question was asking. In other words, I understood the directions much better. From that point reading became part of my DNA, especially during my leisure time. During my first year of teaching, I read a wide variety of titles from the local library. The only one I remember was The Guadalcanal Diary, written by Richard Tregaskis. I read this one primarily because I had seen the 1943 film movie on which it was based.

But there has been much more to this past Father’s Day than a stack of books. My wife and I went to the vigil Mass for Father’s Day. The usual case with this day was that after Mass the celebrant would ask all the fathers in attendance to stand so that they could receive his blessing. Not this pastor! When the time arrived, he called all the fathers to come up to the foot of the altar. There were about 50 other dads with me. I am sure some of us were also grandfathers, but I will bet that I was the only double great-grandfather.

When we were all in place, not only the pastor but also the entire congregation blessed us as well. I was brimming with pride and exhilaration. It was such a special moment for all of us. In all my 57 years as an expectant/father, I had never had such an intense feeling as what transpired that late afternoon in June. The feeling still lingers. It ranks extremely high in my experience as a Catholic. Shortly after, I wrote the pastor and told him how he had presented us all with a special moment in our lives as Catholics.

I also congratulated him on the latest championship for his beloved Boston Celtics, who had just won the NBA Championship for the 17th time. I had to tell him after the Mass that my Holy Cross had provided Boston with nearly half of all their championships, thanks to the stellar play of two of our graduates, Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn. I also told him that I had graduated in 1965 and he said he was in the sixth grade. I am so glad he is our pastor. This was one special Father’s Day for me, and I think one of my best ever. It certainly is one for the books…my memory book.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by
William Borst