To quote Old Blues Eyes,

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.

A common regret is that every now and again I come across a book I love and kick myself over and over again for having not read it earlier in my life.  I never feel that way about a movie, a television show, a magazine story or any other kind of literature, not even poetry.  It does, though, happen with those magical things called books and those enchanted delights that surprise you and make you wish you’d read it twenty or so years ago.

I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Margaret Craven

Written four years before I was born, I should have read it in High School.  At least someone should have shoved it in my face at seminary, you’d think.  But no.  It wasn’t until last summer as I was leaving the Northwest to come back to Texas that a dear friend gave me this book as a parting gift to remember him by.  He told he he’d read it as an adolescent.  I wish I had.

I Heard the Owl Call My Name
The owl eventually calls everyone

It is a spectacularly well told story about faith, ministry, life and death all set against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest and the relationships between white settlers and Native Americans.  I think if I’d read this book before I started ministry I’d been a been a better pastor.

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Every writer should read this book.  Scratch that, every human should read this book.

More than anything else, Bird by Bird is about the creative process and enduring life’s wiggles and jiggles while still maintaining sanity and the creative spark.

It was written in 1994, the year I graduated from college.  I wish I’d read it then when the ink was still drying on the pages.  I would have probably been a more likeable person and definitely would have cultivated my work as a writer earlier in life.  I wasted nearly twenty years when I should have been writing all along.

Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

I love a good spy story.  I always have.  I’ve always loved the Bond movies, but until three years ago had never read a single Fleming book.  I picked up Casino Royale (1953) and read it and was overcome by how markedly different the literary Bond was from the one on the silver screen.   Since then I’ve read all of Fleming’s James Bond stories and can honestly say that as much as I love the movies, I love the books more.  Bond is more believable, less likeable, and more vulnerable than anything in the movies.  And yes, for what its worth, Daniel Craig plays James Bond closer to the way Fleming wrote him than any other actor.

If you want to test the movies verses the book, just read Moonraker and then watch the outlandish (fun, but outlandish) movie that is supposedly based on that novel.  They are not even in the same universe.

I wonder, what books have you read later in life that you wish you’d read when you were younger?  I’d love to hear, and I will likely add some of them on my reading list, before its too late.


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