Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 18, 2016


Rob Mackenzie

READER OF THE DAY #54 Rob Mackenzie (my brother)

I was born into a family that loved words… we used to have both Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford English Usage on the kitchen table between the salt and pepper, simply to settle any word arguments. Our Mother was a proponent of finding the right word with the exact shade of meaning whenever possible (e,g, lackadaisical has a different shade of meaning from the word lazy)

We also had a home full of books. The ones that reached out to me first were the “Readers’ Digest Condensed Books” series (we must have had 40 of those and each probably had 5-6 condensed books in each) and then the Encyclopedia Brittanica (a full set in glorious white leather with gold embossing, complete with Gazetteer and many annual updates). The former (the Digests) gave me a very early exposure to some excellent literature (and the concomitant vocabulary that you develop by reading good literature) while the latter fed my congenital curiosity. The three-level writing style of Brittanica (a simplified introduction followed by an increasingly detailed précis and then the full-on detail which often went on for pages) worked for many years and allowed me to delve as deeply into a subject as my curiosity demanded.

The Digests are a thing of the past and the Brittanica have been replaced by the World Wide Web. Smart-phones, iPads and ubiquitous WIFI have meant information is portable and almost constantly available. As the Web developed, I learned to separate the wheat from the chaff in on-line information and even came to financially support the better sources like Wikipedia. A busy business career reduced my “book reading” to technical literature, learning materials and inter-office memos.

In retirement, I still read newspapers but less so than before. My dependence on electronic media has exploded and if you separate me from either my smartphone or iPad for mare than an hour I start to shake uncontrollably. YouTube and Wikipedia are pretty much daily companions simply because they serve the purpose so well. My good wife regularly says “ask your phone about…”. Many of you must play the same game I do whereby one question leads to another and to another and hours can pass before the daisy-chain of curiosity comes to an end. 

I think I understand why others get lost in fiction and non-fiction (for many of the same reasons I suspect) but maybe I should look that up!


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