word craft


It’s all reading

reading BrailleIn my last post­ing, I wrote about how my three-year-old sees writ­ing, and how he tried to repli­cate it.  In so doing, I was remind­ed of oth­er ways of reading.

Some years ago I heard an inter­view of a man (shame on me for not remem­ber­ing his name). He was talk­ing about his father, an immi­nent schol­ar, a man who had a very great love of books, and in par­tic­u­lar, a love of the books he had col­lect­ed, and which he kept in his own library.

His father—in old age—became blind. Unable to read, he would often be dis­cov­ered in his library walk­ing in such a way that he could pass his fin­gers over the vol­umes he had so loved to read.  When he came to a par­tic­u­lar favorite book, he would pause, and with his hand on the book’s spine, stand there for a long time, remem­ber­ing the con­tents of the book.

Anoth­er image, a pho­to­graph. It was a pho­to of a boy who had lost both his arms in a war. He had also lost his sight. Nev­er­the­less, he was read­ing. How was he read­ing? He was lean­ing over a Braille book, read­ing it by touch­ing the dots with his tongue.

The Roman philoso­pher Horace wrote, “A house with­out books is like a body with­out a soul.”  To which might be added the amend­ment: for read­ing is the way a soul sees the world.

1 thought on “It’s all reading”

  1. Your post today remind­ed me of the inti­mate rela­tion­ship some of us have with our books and book­shelves. My life is reflect­ed in the rows and rows of books on my shelves. I could prob­a­bly iden­ti­fy some long-time favorites by touch and by weight. Some have not moved from their loca­tions for many years. There’s a warm com­fort in that: when I get too caught up in cur­rent life, I like to take a break, pull an old friend from the shelf, and remember.


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