Guys Reading Books


There are legends about my father’s office.  Books on every wall, stacks of books covering the floors with only a narrow walkway between the door and the chair.  Forget overstuffed chairs, this was an overstuffed office. The most magnificent thing was Dad’s ability to navigate the chaos!  He could find a book within two minutes.  He’d stare at the ceiling for ten seconds, get up, scan a shelf, and pick out the requested title in nothing flat.

Very occasionally I would happen to be awake before my father left to teach his 7:00 a.m. class. He never exited the house empty-handed. Shoot, he never left the house with just one or two books. I believe that four was the minimum number he carried back and forth. Though he wasn’t what anyone would call athletic he was acrobatic when it came to balancing tottering stacks of books. 

One more Papa John story: at the time of his death, my father had moved into a larger office with more bookshelves than he’d ever before enjoyed.  No books on the floor. We estimated his personal library of books to be around six thousand volumes. Oh boy! that’s a knee-slapper! He double-stacked books; the number was over ten thousand volumes. 

He managed to pass a love of books and of reading down to all seven of his children. Every level of every child’s house has books. He converted many students into bibliophiles. He read books, he recommended books, he gave books.      

No wonder, then, that I find it attractive (and pathologically normal) to see a man reading a book.  Guys have all sorts of interests: cars, guns, gardens, sports, finance, etc.  But let a man initiate book talk and he becomes instantly more handsome. 

My dad died with thousands of books unread.  My dad lived, though, having read thousands of books. His love of the printed word is a heritage and a legacy which I cherish. 

JWH, October 3, 1922 – February 14, 1987

Other February 14 Entries:
Guys Holding Babies
Guys Reciting Poems


11 thoughts on “Guys Reading Books

  1. Beautiful! I would have liked to have known Mr. H. I would have liked to have browsed his shelves. I would have like to have been one of his students. One big regret I have about my own education is that none of my teachers ever gave me any hint about loving books or loving to read (with the exception of one grad prof). What class, Carol, did your dad teach at *7* am?!Miss you!

  2. “No serious book-lover will ever die having read every book he has managed to collect. This is not a sign of dilatoriness but of eagerness, anticipation.” James V. Schall, S.J., A Student’s Guide to Liberal Learning.Carol, I just read this quote the other day, and thought I should send it to you…it seems an appropriate comment on this remembrance of your book-loving father. Love you (more than all my books), LisaLooking forward to June…what books will we discuss?

  3. Beautiful, Carol.  My paternal grandmother died on 2/14/96.  My maternal grandfather was born on 2/14/1898 and died on 2/12/1954.  My parents were married on 2/16/46.  (I posted about it just now.)  Lots of important dates in this one week for me.Love to see how your dad passed along his love of books to you.

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