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Today is August 14, 2018

Outdoors

Quiet evening with a book

Quiet evening with a book

Good books are true treasures. Photo: Tony Kinton

Some will argue that reading is a thing of the past. This obviously doesn’t include such reading as office memos, instructions, specific information gathering and the like; these and others remain a necessity. The reading to which is referred here is more protracted, involved. This reading is the type that was once an integral part of entertainment and education, whether the education element was assigned or spurred into action simply by a desire of the reader to gain knowledge and insight.

But that argument proffered in the first sentence above is not accurate. Reading is still practiced by many, and research indicates that it is coming full circle and gaining renewed popularity. True, the forms in which the words to be read have changed, perhaps for the better. I still like books, those warm and tangible entities that I hold and underline and mark pages and revisit with regularity.

But the electronic devices are quite marvelous. Depending upon my planned length of stay, I often board an airplane while carrying a backpack so stuffed with books that it hardly fits in the overhead. Not so with the new rigs. They can store or load on demand a tremendous assortment of books and fit quite handily in small spaces. I probably should get one of those little units. All that aside, reading is not dead.  

What are the benefits of reading? The list is far too extensive for this limited space, but some few come to mind and have been proven true over decades. One clear plus is that reading demonstrates communication. Most writers are grand communicators, and reading their words, with proper grammar and sentence structure and thought development, is a terrific assist to the reader. It is disconcerting to hear individuals take the stage, whatever that stage may be, and spend their allotted time promoting this or that, announcing some event, giving some report or pleading for change, and those individuals fully fail to convey the message intended. Time is wasted for all, the potential information transfer not transferred. Reading can help rectify this situation.

Reading also allows the reader to think, to visualize scenes and characters that the words portray rather than to just sit in a noise-induced fog and be told what to think. It allows readers to live adventures vicariously and become a part of the action and circumstances. To apply those circumstances to life.  

Let’s set aside other true benefits of reading and get to the one most pursued by a majority of those who read. Simply, reading is entertaining, fun. The reader can become lost in a story of his or her choosing, can thrill to the action and mourn over the losses. That reader can escape the mundane if so desired or can find challenge to prompt that one toward reconciliation, development, enhancement or a great many other progressions in life other than watching time slip away.

So, what should the reader read? That depends upon the reader. Choosing something of interest is the first step, and this can be from a purely entertainment avenue or a desire for additional information on a subject. Since I am an outdoorsman and this is an outdoor column, I not only select a great many books bent in that direction for my own reading, but will take the remaining space in this piece to recommend reading related to the outdoors.

The South in general and Mississippi in particular are filled with outstanding writers and characters who are the subjects of writers. The same can be said for locales writers choose. Mississippi is filled with them. Consequently, staying close to home is good advice.

Disregard the age of that writing, unless, of course, updated information is sought. While style of older writings will be unlike that of newer materials, the messages can be rich. One specific outdoor writer from years past is Nash Buckingham. He lived in Memphis but traveled via narrow-gauge rail on the Limb Dodger to hunt his beloved Beaver Dam Club in Tunica County, as well as other locations within the state. An upland bird and waterfowl hunter he was, and his words are truly remarkable. And there is Robert Ruark. Not specifically Southern, but grand in his own right.

James F. McCafferty, a Mississippian, is a superb writer and has several books related to outdoor doings in the Magnolia State. His coverage of Robert Eager Bobo and Holt Collier is incredible. And don’t miss any writings about Holt Collier, regardless of author. He guided Theodore Roosevelt on the famous “Teddy Bear” hunt in Sharkey County, and was a particularly intriguing individual. The same can be said for Ben Lilly. His roots were in Kemper County and “colorful” is woefully lacking as a descriptor of this man. The Legend of Ben Lilly, if that book can be found, is a must read.

And there are so many other writers and books; sorry I couldn’t mention them all. A reasonable beginning for writers and materials from or dealing with Mississippi, both past and present, would be to search Mississippi writers and go from there.

So, join a growing number of individuals who are expanding their horizons and insights. Get a good book, even if on an electronic device, and read. A quiet evening with a good book is difficult if not impossible to surpass.

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His newest book is “Rambling Through Pleasant Memories.” Order from Amazon.com or Kinton’s website: www.tonykinton.com.

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