The other day, in the grocery store, I overheard a young child telling her mother she had already finished two of the books on her Summer Reading List. Both of the books she mentioned were Classics — books I should have read myself long ago but, for some reason or other, never did. That got me thinking.
Why hadn’t I read those two books? I’ve certainly lived through a whole lot more summers than that little girl. And, I spent most of them perched under a shade tree or on a beach blanket with a book in my hand, didn’t I? Why hadn’t I made good use of all those idle days of summer and read all of The Classics by now? What had I been reading instead?
The answer, of course, is “books that seemed, well, more relevant.”
When I was in school, “relevant” meant keeping up with the interests of my girlfriends. So, I read dozens (and dozens) of fashion magazines and quick-and-easy-to-read romance novels. It wasn’t a total waste of time. I did learn how to dress trendy and wear makeup. I also learned exactly how my knight in shining armor ought to be treating me.
A few years later, when I was a young wife and mother, my “relevant” reading changed. Becoming a Super Mom was my top priority, so I read stacks of books and magazines about decorating, landscaping, cooking, entertaining and, of course, raising extraordinary kids. I did this for years — until I finally realized being a Super Mom made focusing on the really important things in life just too difficult.
When I was ready to re-enter the workforce, my “relevant” reading was all about work — getting a job, keeping a job, negotiating a raise, quitting a job, starting my own business. What I didn’t know was overwhelming, so reading this type of material — day and night — seemed like the right thing to do!
I’ve been working for myself for over 20 years now, and I continue to be somewhat obsessive in my efforts to read “relevant” material. I can’t even tell you how many articles, blogs and books I’ve read in the past two decades about advertising, marketing, PR and sales, leadership and management. And, now there’s social media. Seems I will never, ever know enough about these “relevant” subjects to find time to read anything else — like The Classics!
After all my “thinking,” I turned to the mother and her daughter and said, “I would really love to read those two books myself. But, sadly, I never have. I’m a writer, and not reading more of The Classics is something I truly regret.”
The little girl spoke up, “My mommy says ‘it’s never too late to do the things you want to do.’ And, my daddy says, ‘You should never have regrets in your life.’ Maybe you should start reading the old books now? They really are good!”
Before I could respond, the little girl continued, “I get a gold star every time I finish reading a new book on my Summer Reading List. I got six stars last summer.”
Then she added, “If you start now, you should be able to get a lot of stars — I mean books read — before school starts. Then, you wouldn’t have as many regrets.”
I couldn’t help but smile at her and think, “Of course, she’s right! Having fewer regrets would be a good thing.”
That night I downloaded the first book on my new Summer Reading List on my Kindle. I would tell you its name but doing so would be just embarrassing! I’d prefer you just assume I read that particular Classic a long, long time ago.
Question and Answers
Orange and Pink
Pleasure of Your Company
Choices and Change
Do Overs and Second Chances
Taking a Sabbatical
Ghosts and Goblins
Dog Days of Summer
Bones of Success
The Power of Seven
Spirits of the Season
What can I do to help you?
Back to the Future
Women and Philanthropy
Tiny Little Efforts
Beyond the Passion
Election of 2008
Lessons from IKE
No time for fooling around
For love or money?
Don't worry; be happy
Work and Life
Red-hot and true-blue
Mothers and Manners
Passions of the Heart
Endings and Beginnings
Holding on to Summer
Giving thanks & paying it forward
Renewing Old Friendships
Summertime! And the livin' is easy?
A different kind of wonderful
Gratitude & Grace