My father was an oppressive man. He could be an ogre, dominant and abusive. However, there were also good qualities about him, too. For one, he loved to read and pushed us towards books. Unfortunately, my father didn’t do anything gently. It turned me off to reading and I refused to read, even when he made us sit in a room with him and read silently to ourselves from whatever book we each held. In my stubbornness I faked reading. I would turn the page every couple of minutes as if I had been soaking it all in but I didn’t read a word.I’m not sure when, but I had to look up something in his copy of Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett when I was still young enough to be impressionable. When I opened the book and went in search of what I was looking for, words flew at me like dreams in the night and I was stunned and suddenly in love with the written word. In that book I could see what all the great men and women in history had written and/or said and their words and thoughts were intoxicating. But having fallen head over heels for this book and the brilliance it contained, I could not give my father the satisfaction of knowing this. We were at war with each, he and I, as he was with most of his children. And so I would wait for him to go out and I would steal the book off the shelf and plunge into its pages. Here Thoreau and Emerson and Whitman and Plato and Roosevelt and Shakespeare and Tennyson came to life. When he’d return home and pull into the driveway I would dash to put the book back on the shelf above his bedroom doorway and retreat quickly to my room, or turn on the television, so that he would never know, even though I would be punished for watching television. Better to be punished than to admit that I loved something he loved.After my father’s funeral a month ago, his nine children gathered in his house and were allowed to grab some things. One of my brothers got my father’s car. Another got his television. Many grabbed photographs. I grabbed that old copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. I have another copy, the most recent one, but there’s just something right about that old one sitting here, side-by-side with Atticus on my desk, both watching me write.
Lewis is at his most charming and approachable in his stories, and his journey into fiction -- like his return to faith -- was in large part guided by Tolkien. In 1937, on the eve of publication for "The Hobbit," the friends found themselves deploring the state of contemporary writing. "Tollers," Lewis said, "there is too little of that we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves."
“There is a wonderful term that speaks of the pervading spirit of a special place---genius loci.The Romans believed protective spirits watched over special places. I have no doubt that there is something special that watches over these mountains for I feel the magic when I stop and just let myself be, whether it is on Franconia Ridge to watch the sunrise or under cloudy skies on a ski slope on Mt. Tecumseh. In the Whites the genius loci is rich and tangible.”