Yellow Pages


Ecclesiates 12:12

Recently, a friend recommended a book to me. Normally, when that happens, I smile and say, “Thank you,” then promptly forget it.  In this case, however, because of who recommended it and because it was a fairly controversial book in certain circles, I decided I would give it a read.  I don’t particularly like to be in the middle of a controversy, but I do love getting to the source.  First, I want to know if those arguing have correct information. Second, I want to evaluate for myself whether the issue merits an argument.  Afterward, I may jump into a conversation here or there with my two-cents-worth, but I will have an informed opinion. As a pastor, many people would recommend their latest read as “life-changing,” but I rarely found anything new or different or that truly sparked my interest. Therefore, if I am going to read nothing new, I want to read something old, something very old.

That is where yellow pages come in. My father loved yellow pages. I don’t mean the phone book, of course. I am talking about books that have stood the test of time.  A classic book vs a best-seller is like classical music vs the Top 40.  If people sing and play your song for years, it’s a hit. If people sing and play your song for centuries, it’s classical. Those are the kind of books my father loved and the kind I love.  He would spend hours in a used book store, an antique store, or a garage sale, combing over the books. He only looked at the ones with yellowed pages though.  It wasn’t enough that the content was classic; he wanted to find the earliest volume of the work that he could.  He would often bring home an entire set of books, classic works of literature and theology that still today adorn my sister’s bookcases and mine.

Not only did he love buying books with yellowed pages, he loved giving them away.  If he read something he thought was worthwhile, he actively sought an opportunity to give it away.  He was no hoarder.  I am reminded of one particular volume he purchased.  When my mother’s sister, Pat (the happy hillbilly hippie) declared her major in college as English, he gifted her with a 1913 edition of H.G. Wells’ The Passionate Friends.  What makes this particular work interesting is that Wells was very well-known for works of science-fiction, such as The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Island of Dr. Moreau.  This work was a novel, a love story, and a very good one.  A couple of years ago, I was visiting Pat and Don, when she asked me to sit down.  She carefully pulled out the hardback copy, still containing the little note he had placed inside the cover, explaining how he (unlike her father) had honored her desire to immerse herself in literature by giving her the book. She now wanted to give it to me in return.  I was humbled and honored, too.  As soon as I returned home, I started reading it.  A few months back, I started looking for the book, trying to remember where I had misplaced it.  It dawned on me that I had loaned it to another friend, who evidently hadn’t returned it.  No matter. That’s what he would have done. He would have given it away.  My father must have bought and given hundreds of books in his lifetime.  That’s just how he operated.

I am about halfway through the book my friend recommended. For the life of me, I don’t know why it has stirred up so much controversy, other than the fact that some people simply like to argue.  Even though it is a current best seller (not my usual fare) I am thoroughly enjoying it.  The only problem is, I will now have to keep it for several decades before I can give it away.  The pages are too white.


Published in: on October 18, 2017 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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