IVP - Behind the Books - Bet you can't not read

December 17, 2012

Bet you can't not read

This summer I read Outside Looking In, a memoir by Garry Wills, whose Pulitzer-winning Lincoln at Gettysburg and What Jesus Meant are also on my to-read list. Wills is difficult, if not impossible, to classify as a writer. Is he a classicist? journalist? pundit? biographer? The label that may fit him best is now an old-fashioned one: public intellectual. But he himself uses a different word: bookworm.

The truth of the epithet is borne out through the whole book, but I want to pass along a nice little passage from the introduction that may both horrify and delight you fellow bookworms:

My father thought I was guaranteeing my inability to make a living when I got my doctorate in classical Greek. That, he thought, would make me a perpetual sideliner. He had always feared that my bookworm ways guaranteed that life would pass me by. It bothered him that, when caddying for him as a boy, I carried a book in the golf bag and pulled it out whenever his party was held up by those playing ahead. One summer when I was in grade school, he paid me money (I think five dollars) if I would go a whole week without reading anything. I took the offer, and used the money to buy a new book.1

Smart kid.

Outside Looking In

1 Garry Wills, Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer (New York: Viking, 2010), 3.

Posted by Jon Boyd at December 17, 2012 12:44 PM Bookmark and Share


My mom kicked me out of the house for four hours when I was in third grade to get me to stop reading and to start playing. I just brought the book outside, walking around the front yard as I read.

Comment by: Greg Jao at December 18, 2012 1:33 PM

Ha! That's stick-to-it-iveness for you! Do you recall what the book was?

Comment by: Jon at December 18, 2012 3:32 PM

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