Press Talk: Reading is king. Long live the king!

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor

Published:

 

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian's editor emeritus. His column of personal opinion appears the first Saturday of every month. Reach him at lounews1@gmail.com.

Sometimes you have to take a step back from the daily grind and do something you simply enjoy.

No, I’m not talking about retirement (just yet). I’m talking about something as simple as reading a book.

Because of my job, which, frankly, requires a ton of reading things like newspapers, magazines, websites, etc., I have not spent much time reading books.

This is exactly the opposite of my bright, beautiful wife, Maley, who is a constant book reader. She set a goal last year of reading 50 books and easily surpassed it. She’s also involved in a local soup group/book club. She’s even mastered the ability to walk (she does 10,000 steps every day) and read at the same time.

It might look a little unusual to those down at the park, but they’ve gotten used to it. 

I’ve always admired her for that and wish I could be more like her. But as noted, I’m a slacker.

Sorry.

But hey, it’s not like I don’t read books at all. I’m just, shall we say, much more selective. 

‘Kon-Tiki’

One of my favorite books is “The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas.” It was released in 1948 and written by Thor Heyerdahl. It was a fascinating adventure about a voyage — by raft — from Peru to Raroia atoll, near Tahiti.

The premise of the adventure was that there is a link between the peoples of South America and Polynesia. And that link was created hundreds of years ago, when the people of South America built a raft of balsa and headed to sea.

Just over 100 days after the voyage began, and 4,340 miles later, the crew of the Kon-Tiki made it to Polynesia.

Hannah Smith

Lest you think I’m only reading 60-year-old books, my latest  indulgences are books written by my good friend and New York Times best-selling author Randy Wayne White.

I’ve spoken about his franchise character Doc Ford — a retired NSA agent and marine biologist living on an island off the Southwest Florida coast. I’ve even led a book club discussion at a local bookstore on one of his Doc Ford novels. The character has spawned three Doc Ford restaurants on beaches in Southwest Florida.

In the last few years, White has created a second franchise character, Hannah Smith. She’s a fishing guide and part-time investigator who has an on-and-off relationship with Doc Ford. She’s been described as a tall, strong Florida woman.

I’d describe her as a badass with the ability to neutralize a threat. But she also is vulnerable  and exposes a kind heart. She’s all about righting the wrongs around her.

What I like most about Randy’s writing is he has an incisive ability to develop not only plotlines but characters. When I finished reading Randy’s latest Hannah Smith novel, “Seduced,” I was able to understand who she was, sense how she would navigate the dangers around her, feel her pain.

“Seduced” has all the elements I’m looking for in a getaway novel: A dead politician, intense relationships, the quest for the holy grail of original orange seeds to save the Florida citrus industry, lots of money and — oh, yeah — big snakes.

On occasion, I write about books because I think reading something — anything — is just about the most important thing we all can do.

Reading is knowledge. And knowledge is king.

Long live the king!

And thanks, Randy, for keeping me involved with books. “Kon-Tiki” can take me only so far.