For Christmas last year, my son-in-law, Dan, gave me a truly creative gift. He offered to read four books with me over the course of the coming year. One of my favorite things to talk about with Dan is books. He was an English Lit. major and has an appreciation for good writing, so I corner him whenever they visit and pick his brain about all things books and reading.
I chose the first book. In January we read “Peace Like A River” by Leif Enger. It’s a great story with fascinating characters, but it was Enger’s writing style that drew me in on page one. I haven’t had the best of luck with fiction, so I felt like I hit a gold mine with this book.
If you are ever standing in the fiction section of a book store and come across “Peace Like A River”, read the second to last chapter. It will take you about eight minutes. I’ve perused Enger’s words many times and they always move me. Better yet, buy the book, take it home and read the whole thing.
Dan’s first pick was “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell, which we are reading together now. I thought it was appropriate to use my “Mark the Bookmark” bookmark in honor of Goliath.
Gladwell’s book looks at “underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants.” In the introduction, he points out the many ways Goliath was disadvantaged in the show-down with David. Most Sunday school versions of the Old Testament story make Goliath out to be the easy champion and David’s unlikely victory the surprise ending.
Now I’m rethinking all that.
Perhaps David had the odds on his side from the very start.
Maybe being the underdog has its advantages.
“We have a definition in our heads of what an advantage is — and the definition isn’t right. And what happens as a result? It means that we make mistakes. It means that we misread battles between underdogs and giants. It means that we underestimate how much freedom there can be in what looks like a disadvantage.” Malcolm Gladwell
Once Dan recommended a book to me and I read it, but didn’t love it — until I talked it over with him and he pointed out all kinds of things I had missed. Then I realized that I did love it. Discussing “David and Goliath” should make for some interesting conversation with my son-in-law.
I’m learning that talking over a book can be as powerful as reading it.