Today would have been John D. MacDonald's birthday. He's most famous for his Travis McGee novels, stories that feature the beach bum detective who lives on a houseboat, called the Busted Flush, that he won in a poker game. McGee's friend, Meyer, was an internationally-known and respected economist, the educated intellectual of the pair. Meyer's boats were jammed full of books and treatises, and not just on his field.
I'm lucky enough to own two copies of a short essay called Reading For Survival that John D. MacDonald wrote in 1986 for the Library of Congress' Center for the Book. It was published in 1987, after MacDonald's death, in a limited edition of 5,000 copies.
Reading for Survival is a twenty-two page conversation between McGee and Meyer about the importance of reading in man's survival. Meyer points out that man's history made it important for him to listen and use his memory, until printing, books and libraries made it no longer important for men to need memory because books contained that memory, the record of mankind.
He asks what should people be doing with that unused capacity. He said there are pitfalls for nonreaders in today's world, that they will fall for any fad or belief. The solution to empty places in heads is "Education, literacy, reading, thinking, and remembering."
Meyer (and MacDonald) says, "The man who can read and remember and ponder the big realities is a man keyed to survival of the species. These big realities are the history of nations, cultures, religions, politics, and the total history of man-from biology to technology. He does not have to read everything. That's an asinine concept. He should have access to everything, but have enough education to differentiate between slanted tracts and balanced studies, between hysterical preachings and carefully researched data."
John D. MacDonald's writings are still relevant today. In that short essay, his two characters discuss Creationism, Shiites and Sunnis, terrorism, global warming, and other topics that are just as timely now as they were twenty years ago. And, MacDonald's solution for survival? An educated person who reads.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.