SKIPPER: Books people read says a lot about them | Columnists

I am thinking you can tell a lot about people by the books they read. What fills their bookcases are components of the live they have lived – their interests, their pursuit of knowledge, their desire for entertainment or perhaps just their quest for a little relief from the real world.

Have you ever been on a train or a bus or an airplane and taken a peek at the book being read by the person next to you? And when you catch a glimpse of the title of the book, do you form a judgment about that person without knowing anything else about them? You know you do.

In the interest of filling some idle time the other day, I decided to start cataloging books I have in my home, some that I have purchased, others that I have received as gifts over the years – about 60 years really, but who’s counting?

It has become a bigger task than I envisioned. I have sorted through more than 100 books so far, and those were in stacks on the floor of a back bedroom. I have yet to delve into the many bookcases I have throughout my home.

People are also reading…

For better or worse, these books are like a chronicle of my life. I can see that my life story has changed over the years as my interests have changed from the time I was a young man up through today. I am certain you will have the same feeling if you go through books you have collected.

I know without even looking that I will not find any books on auto mechanics or gardening or on anything that has to do with the Kardashians. There will only be a few fiction books, including a couple by the late Dorothy Garlock of Clear Lake, a friend and one of the most prolific authors of what I call “romance novels.” She called them “historical fiction.” She would just laugh when I asked her if “historical fiction” was an oxymoron.

But she made me laugh when I asked her what she was most proud of in her writing career. By this time she was well into her nineties. She thought for a moment and said, “Somewhere in the world right now, someone is sitting on a toilet reading one of my books.”

The books I have can easily be divided into specific categories that accurately reflect my interests over the years – baseball: sports in general: the art of writing: history: politics: biography: and religion.

What do the books in your bookcases say about you? Whatever they say, it will be the truth – and it will be in writing!

John Skipper retired from the Globe Gazette in February 2018 after 52 years in newspapers, most of that in Mason City covering North Iowa government and politics.


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