Good morning and welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for starting your day with The County Line.
Today is Adair Drug Tuesday, all day long and even if it rains. We’re proud to partner with the fine folks at 510 Burkesville Street in Columbia, so if any readers stop by—or speak to them on the phone (270-384-9999)—let them know that the support of this website is appreciated.
As much as we love today’s sponsor, however, Adair Drug must share a bit of the spotlight for this morning post. There are wannabe holidays to promote! Our mission to share, celebrate and sometimes mock random pseudo holidays stops for no man, woman, or pharmacy, but we took extra care to find one worthy of sharing the stage with our friends at Adair Drug.
We have a strong candidate for August 9. Ironically, this is a sloppily named ode to meticulously ordered words, words that are printed on paper and bound together.
Happy National Book Lovers Day!
Let’s break it down.
First of all—that name. It makes it sound like this is a celebration of people who love books, rather than a celebration of books or a celebration of the love of books. Considering the inspiration, it’s a little weird that whoever created this one did not put more care into the name. It could obviously be worse—there are dozens of fake holidays we have analyzed with sillier titles—but the near miss here is noteworthy and mildly disappointing.
Nitpicking aside, this writer is all for this holiday.
Admittedly, I’m more of a “reader” than a “book lover” but the difference is only marginal. Here’s a quick explanation: I’m an avid reader but I mostly read the kind of stuff I write—nonfiction, article format, word counts ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand. I do this for a couple reasons. First, it’s inspiring and helps me in my job to read writing like my own, only from superior, more talented writers. The second reason is simply personal preference. I have always been drawn to articles and essays over books. Even as a kid, I devoured magazines and newspapers but only occasionally conquered a whole book.
These differences, however, are mostly irrelevant. Reading is reading, no matter the format, and I will always be a proponent of reading. The skill is hugely powerful, although many fail to recognize the potential benefits. With the right book, one can learn how to build a house, fix a car, or roast a pig. A book can transport the reader back in time, propel them into the distant future, or take them on an adventure on the other side of the globe. Books educate and entertain and challenge and comfort us, sometimes all at once.
While I am not the most voracious book reader around, I know someone who might hold a strong claim to that title.
My mom reads more than anyone I have ever met. As far back as I can remember, books were her go-to for even the briefest moments of leisure time. For decades, she devoured three or four books, at the minimum, every week. The rate has only gotten more ridiculous since she retired—pretty much a book a day.
Mom was the first person to encourage me to read. She bought me my first books, and she always suggested reading as the solution when I complained that I was bored. I recognized my preference for journalism when I was still a kid, probably thanks to Sports Illustrated and The Courier-Journal, but I still carry some of that love for books Mom instilled in me a long time ago. As proof that I did occasionally take Mom’s advice, here are a few of my all-time favorites, six reading recommendations from me to you—with a few notes for each entry.
“Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell: I have read every Malcolm Gladwell book to date and would recommend each of them, but this one is his best. Gladwell checks all the boxes for me because he writes nonfiction but manages to entertain. He writes about science but he’s not a scientist, and his readers don’t have to be one either. “Outliers” is an examination of extremely high achievers and the factors—oftentimes unrecognized—that contribute to success. You’ll feel smarter for reading it.
Quote without context: “Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: My all-time favorite piece of fiction is this iconic American novel, published in 1960. The setting is rural Alabama in the 1930s, the narrator is a 6-year-old girl, and the plot features weighty themes including race and class struggle, law and order, and human morality. There’s plenty of humor to balance out the more serious stuff and make this a completely engrossing, entertaining read. It’s a classic, and everyone should read it at least once. The only nitpick is that the narrator boasts a vocabulary that is implausibly advanced for an elementary school student.
Quote without context: “Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts.”
“The Cornbread Mafia” by James Higdon: Written by a Marion County native, this masterpiece of journalism tells a true story that reads and entertains like a tall tale. A group of country boys from central Kentucky build the largest domestic marijuana growing operation in U.S. history, then they pay the price. The story is incredible and Higdon is the perfect author to tell it.
Quote without context: “A good rottweiler was like a gun that thought for itself, keeping a pot patch safe from rippers while the farmhands slept.”
“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt: I read this one in high school and it really stuck with me. It’s a mostly true story with some convenient embellishments and fabrications, but the author is an expert at what he does. Berendt mixes journalism techniques with other literary styles so that a true account reads like a gothic novel. The characters have real depth; the setting of Savannah, Georgia is vividly brought to life; and the plot revolves around a mysterious murder. What’s not to like?
Quote without context: “If there’s a single trait common to all Savannahians, it’s their love of money and their unwillingness to spend it.”
“Night” by Elie Wiesel: This short but powerful memoir is the only book I ever started and finished in a single sitting. Late one night about 15 years ago, I picked up the 110-page paperback and figured I’d check out the first couple of paragraphs. The sun was up by the time I was done. For those not familiar, the author is a holocaust survivor and the book features raw, horrific recollections of his experiences. It’s not a light read, not a fun read, and not for children. What it is, however, is history—an unsanitized account of humanity at its worst. This book is not one you will like, but you won’t regret reading it.
Quote without context: “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as told to Alex Haley: This long, sprawling firsthand account of Malcolm X’s life is fascinating. Because the behemoth of a book took so long for X and Haley to finish, his views and opinions evolve chapter by chapter. Impatient readers might see the commentary as repulsive early on, with black supremacist rhetoric and a strong hatred of white people. Those who continue reading, however, are rewarded with personal growth, a shift in ideals and a plea for love and tolerance and brotherhood. This book is hard to describe and impossible to summarize, but it’s educational, moving, enlightening, and never dull. Popular culture has reduced Malcolm X to a small collection of quotes and a springboard for Denzel Washington’s acting career, but he was much more. I cannot fully articulate my fondness for this recommendation, but you’ll get it if you just give the book a chance.
Quote without context: “So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
This list could continue on for another 100 suggestions, but we’re way past the word limit, so that’s it for now. We can build on it next August 9, or perhaps sooner if the proper fake holiday arises.
Let’s check in with the intern for today’s weather report:
At 6:30 a.m., it’s a comfortable 73 degrees outside company headquarters in Russell Springs. Intern correspondents report an identical temperature just down the road in Jamestown, and it’s mostly the same in Columbia, just a tick warmer at 74, according to the thermometer at The County Line’s Adair office. Don’t expect these idyllic conditions to continue however—there’s a chance of storms by mid-morning and they’re expected to continue off and on throughout the day. The expected high is 86 degrees.
That’s all for now and—as always—thanks for reading. Check back throughout the day as Adair Drug Tuesday rolls on. More fresh content is on the way, always from local voices.
This post is brought to you as part of Adair Drug Tuesday.