I like to read. It’s something I’ve liked since childhood, and continued as an adult. I owe a lot of this to some excellent libraries available to me as I grew up. I don’t remember how old I was when I got my first library card, but I’m sure it was no later than third grade.
My preferences are varied. I like nonfiction— usually history or subjects I find interesting. I also like fiction, usually historical novels or action thrillers. It sort of depends on what I am interested in at any particular time. Mostly I alternate fiction and nonfiction, but sometimes I just go from one book to another of a particular type. It depends on my interests at any particular time.
I also like to read the Bible. I read it quite a bit more now that I’m older and have a somewhat better understanding of what it’s about and why we should read it. Teaching Bible studies has also increased my interest.
There are certain authors and certain subjects I like. James Michener is one author I have read quite a lot, but I can’t say I have read all his books. Since I like military history, I have read books by and about military leaders. One I recommend is “The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.” I read it a few years ago and I found it very readable. Years later I learned that the book was coauthored by Grant and Mark Twain! I don’t think Robert E. Lee ever did an autobiography, but I have read about his life and would read a biography if I found one.
I have also read books by and about President and General Dwight Eisenhower, as well as other World War II leaders such as Admiral Chester Nimitz, General Curtis E. LeMay, General George Patton, Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle, Lieutenant General Ira Eaker, General Carl A. Spaatz and several others, including many more recent individuals. In some cases these nonfiction books are more exciting than a lot of fiction.
I have always believed that the best gift we can give a child is the desire to read. Kids develop their own tastes in reading—I spent many hours in public libraries when I was a child and I read everything from Greek mythology to classics like the works of Victor Hugo, Jules Verne and many others. The interest stayed with me through college and beyond. Literature was always one of my best subjects throughout my years in school.
I have even spent hours poring through encyclopedias of one kind or another. And I now also do a lot of reading online. I’m always happy to see my grandchildren wanting to read and I hope I have passed some of my fascination with reading to them.
I have been known to read articles or books I disagree with. In my opinion, a thinking person should seek out opposing views to better understand and defend his or her own beliefs. Sometimes I have even changed my views because of this reading, but really not that much or that often. I still believe what I believe.
So my advice to parents: Give your kids the world. Give them books and get them a library card and take them to the nearest public library. Don’t send them—take them. It’s wonderful to see the world through their eyes. It is truly something you can enjoy together. Our communities have some excellent public libraries and they are worth all the time we can spend in them.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.