On “Books”

Next to CDs and potato chips, I buy books … so when I found this hidden gem insight in the context of his book from Max DePree in his book Leadership is an Art(Outstanding book + his books are always double spaced and expensive!). What he syas here, I believe it applies to any worthwhile book I read (stuff that struck me especially in bold italics):


In some sense, every reader “finishes” every book according to his or her experiences and needs and beliefs and potential. That is the way you can really own a book. Buying books is easy; owning them is not. There is space for you to finish and own this book. The ideas here have been in my mind for quite a few years changing, gowing, maturing. I will continue to work on them long after this book is published, and I trust you will too.

In saying this, I am expressing the hope you will see that the book demands something of you and that the book is open to your influence and your observations. This book, as you read it, should illustrates many of the ideas discussed, especially ones of participation and ownership. I hope this book, like many well-thought-out buildings, is indeterminate.

As a child, I often watched adults study books and learned one of my first lessons about reading. They wrote in their books. Intent and involved readers often write in the margins and between the lines. (You may end up doing a lot of writing and reading between the lines in this book!) Good readers take possession of what they are learning by underlining and commenting and questioning. In this manner, they “finish” what they read.

You can read this book quickly, but I hope you cannot finish it quickly. It will be worth a lot more to you if you finish it, if you have made it truly your own book.

Many years ago Herman Miller was building an addition to one of its plants. The steel was up when the job superintendent noticed that somehting was wrong. He discovered that the addition was eight inches too high. All the columns had to be cut off. I had two of the ends chrome plated. they stand in my office, as a kind of folk sculpture, to remind me that no one is perfect. That goes for books too.

Close with a wonderful quote from DePree on “Change” …

We cannot become what we need to be, remaining what we are.

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