Ostomy Memories on Reading


“A book lying idle on a shelf,” wrote Henry Miller, “is wasted ammunition.” Somewhere along the line, it would appear, I came to live by that belief, given the way that I read. Firstly, I don’t regard the act of reading as a way to flesh out a summer day or otherwise kill time. Killing time ought to be a felony. Life's too short.  At the risk of sounding elitist, I limit my reading to what might generally be deemed “good books.” That means recognized literary authors over best sellers or junk novels. It means non-fiction from which I can learn something enlightening, biographies and autobiographies about well-known, successful and respected people, and thoughtful collections of essays or other writings by well-reputed writers. Secondly, when I read I always have a pen with me. I mark or underline passages that I find particular meaningful, and here’s where Miller’s quote plays in. I’m continually pulling books that I’ve read off the shelf and leafing through them, reading the parts that I’ve previously marked. Sometimes I will find a particular quote that I can use in what I’m writing. Sometimes the quote becomes a germ of an idea for something to write (this post, for example). At least, I get to enjoy and hopefully profit from a review of something thoughtful and well-written. If I’m going to spend time reading other people’s minds, I want them to be good minds.


Hello HenryM.

I never read a book until my early thirties. Partly because I was more interested in 'thinking' for myself and partly because I was too busy working. When I did finally read a book it was to find out what it was that my wife found so interesting within the pages of her favourite authors. When I reached the ripe old age of 70years I spent some time catching up on reading stuff that I had hitherto avoided. I read a book a day for several years and learned a lot about what was popular and what was not. I also learned quite a bit about styles of writing and felt that many authors seemed to be pandering to a perceived audience rather than expressing any new or unique insights. An astonishing number of stories seemed to be simply rehashing classic stories from past writers, which led me to the suspicion that once I had read one - I had probably read enough. One of the things that amused me somewhat, was the growing trend for almost every book on the shelves to be advertised as 'best-sellers'. Needless to say, my fad for reading faded and was replaced with writing. I still do quite a bit of 'reading', but nowadays it is for research purposes rather than for entertainment or killing time. 

Best wishes


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Hi guys, with winter fast approaching here in N. Michigan, I will start reading more. Our local library has a program that connects with a bunch of other libraries, so the choice of reading materials is large. We also go to rummage sales during the summer, and I stock up on books.


Bill, this quote from Mark Twain's Autobiography might interest you: "There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaliedoscope...We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages." 

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I too love a good book. My husband and I enjoy different genres: he loves the mental challenge of a mystery, while I will read just about anything, as long as it's well written. A badly written book is such a waste. I am nearly finished Hilary Mantel's "The Mirror and the Light", the third book in the Wolf Hall trilogy. I am in awe of the artistry with which she fleshes out Henry VIII's villainous henchman, Thomas Cromwell, and renders him such a complex figure that I will be sorry to see him lose his head, as he must (spoiler alert!).

I have friends who read to escape - they are reading voraciously to get through this pandemic. I don't view reading that way. I see it as an opportunity to look at something, whether it be an issue, a time, a person or a place, from a perspective different than my own. Or, as Atticus Finch famously explained to his children, to "climb in his skin and walk around in it."


Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister

Yes, a nice approach to reading. The Cromwells! It is Oliver Cromwell that I have read a lot about, the originator of military coup d'etats, martial law, and military rule. Those events are not new to my part of the world. He was actually exhumed and hung publicly posthumously but that was in England. My cousin is the only one who had the nerve to announce what happened to Oliver Cromwell in a public meeting. The struggle against despotism is about to heat up here, the first meetings to begin in the middle of this month. Best wishes.


Hi Henry, I don't think it's elitist to only want to read "good books," although there will always be differing opinions on what that means. I've found as I've gotten older, I am much more selective about what I read, quite simply because my time has become more precious. I don't want to waste it on something that I am not enjoying or not learning from. I have a list of classics that I still intend to read, but I also enjoy a well-written mystery. I like to mix it up. My husband is a Sci-Fi fan, which I just can't get excited about, but we do have many authors in common. If I find I'm coming to the end of a book and realize I don't have another to take its place, it's cause for panic. Covid and the closure of libraries and some great used book stores here has not helped! The libraries are now open, but I'm afraid some of the small book stores will not survive Covid. Very sad.



Terry, I agree:

The definition of a "good book" will vary from person to person and perhaps, for some individuals, through the years. We all have our priorities as to what we want to experience and learn with, from, through a tome.

As I work full-time, I wish I had more time to invest in a "good book". My retired mother, however, has been a voracious reader for at least all my years, and with the continuing uncertainties that coronavirus metes out, I don't know who is more concerned with her running out of reading material - me or her! She does have other projects to help fill her time, however, she reads books primarily for enjoyment and escapism. She is a senior with an underlying health condition, so her desire to be out and about to replenish her book supply versus the risk of contracting COVID-19 is a recurring topic of conversation.

Many of Mom's friends also read a great deal, and they all pass books along to each other by the bag, box. Ultimately, these books are donated to our local library system, and it is now providing books by reservation as individuals are not yet permitted to visit a library branch and browse the bookshelves.

Vivat amor librorum!



Hi Lily, It always makes me happy when younger people express their love for books. I have faith that even in this fast-paced, high-tech, computerized world, there will always be a place for books. Those of us who love them will always find ways to get them. You have something to look forward to in retirement, more time to read. There have to be some benefits to getting old!




Hi, Terry

There are benefits to getting older, certainly - just ask my retired mom! LOL. For me, one will be to select one of my many "One Day I'll Read This" books from my shelves, and delve into the pages with relish! There is nothing like picking up a physical book, turning pages while allowing the mind unfettered access to further education or entertainment, then placing a physical bookmark in between pages so that I may pick up where I left off.

Pre-retirement, everywhere I go, I take a book. Reading is a wonderful way to fill time during unexpected waits, delays. I don't have a Kindle or other electronic device for reading literature; I detest the idea that its battery may die in the midst of an exciting moment in a story!

My mom taught me to read; my 4th-grade teacher taught me to love to read. I bless them both! :)

Be well, Terry


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