Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A little pocket of time

Do check out the third installment of What is Stephen Harper Reading? Politics aside (though not that they should be), Martel has enclosed a wonderful letter along with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, celebrating books and reading. He also has photos of the library at Laurier House in Ottawa, which was home to Sir Wilfrid and William Lyon Mackenzie King. Martel writes, "How did they manage to read so much? Perhaps Laurier and King were excellent at time management. Certainly television wasn’t there to inform them in part and otherwise fruitlessly devour their hours. Or was it that reading was a natural and essential element of being a respectable, well-rounded gentleman? Was it some ingrained habit of the privileged that gave these two prime ministers permission to spend so much time reading?"

Martel continues, "Reading was perhaps a privileged activity then. But not now. In a wealthy, egalitarian country like ours, where the literacy rate is high (although some people still struggle and need our help) and public libraries are just that, public, reading is no longer an elitist pastime. A good book today has no class, so to speak, and it can be had by anyone. One of the marvels of where I live, the beautiful province of Saskatchewan, is that the smallest town—Hazlet, for example, population 126—has a public library. Nor need books be expensive, if you want to own one. You can get a gold mine of a used book for fifty cents. After that, all that is needed to appreciate the investment is a little pocket of time."