I welcome you to our summer reading edition of Jmore. The novels we read as kids in the summer were special. No teacher assigned them. There wouldn’t be a test. They were our own choices. With that freedom came the great joy that a book can provide. These books inspired us and captured our imagination.
I remember reading “Robinson Crusoe” and spending the next few weeks preparing long lists of what I needed to take with me if I went to live alone on an island. “A Wrinkle in Time” introduced me to science fiction and was followed by the great books of Asimov and Tolkien.
“The Grapes of Wrath” stunned me. Until reading Steinbeck’s masterpiece, I thought I could become a writer. The first chapter of the novel is by far the single most brilliantly crafted six pages I have ever read. Pure genius to describe the parched fields and the swirling dust before ever introducing a character. Never again did I think I had the innate skill to be a great author.
“Shogun,” a wonderful novel by James Clavell, featured a brilliant Samurai leader who climbed to the shogunate by understanding the needs and desires of his competitors and vassals. Like a chess grandmaster, Toranaga could see the future 10 moves in advance. I often tell new entrepreneurs that “Shogun” is the best business book I’ve ever read.
Harper Lee only wrote one book – “To Kill a Mockingbird.” A shy southern woman, Ms. Lee backed away from the adoring public and never published another book during her lifetime. It didn’t matter. Her one book cements her status as one of the great writers America has produced. No one taught us more about the evils of racism and the power of kindness than Atticus Finch, the book’s protagonist. I think I’ll send a copy to our president.
This summer, I hope you find the time to sit on the back porch, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, and delve into a real book. The iPad or kindle is simply not a match for a physical volume. Invite the kids and the grandkids to join you. What a lovely thought.
Scott Rifkin, MD, Publisher