Firinn Taisdeal


I read nearly every day, sometimes for several hours, always books that challenge me, that help me expand my mind. I read in five languages in addition to English (French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian), and make a point of reading broadly. Often I will deliberately choose a book in an area about which I know nothing, and which I find intimidating. If you can muster the humility necessary to do this, it's amazing how much you can learn. For instance, here are some of the words I've encountered in my reading.

The first book I fell in love with was the dictionary. My family had a 1966 edition of the Random House dictionary, and I spent many hours in total fascination at the range of words, the range of concepts embodied in all those words, the etymology and history of each word, and matters of usage. To me, every new word was a doorway to a new world. I loved learning words like "boustrophedon," referring to a period in the history of ancient Greek during which the direction of the lines of text and even the order of characters alternated. I read most of the Random House dictionary, including the wonderful supplements on world history, short dictionaries in four languages (French, German, Italian, Spanish), and musical notation. It was from the supplement on musical notation that I taught myself to read and write music.

As an adult, I bought and read so many books that eventually I had shelves and shelves of them. Finally I found it silly to hold on to them, so I donated all of them to libraries. Every book I donated was pristine and unmarked. I treat books well for others to enjoy.

I think back over everything books have given me: so much knowledge, so much personal growth, so much mental and emotional satisfaction, so much inspiration. I can't imagine a life without great, challenging books.

After years of deep relationship with books, I decided to also write my own. My first book, Living Much More through Buying Much Less was published in March of 2015. It's about "stuffology," the relationship between you and your possessions, for better and for worse. Two more books are half finished, and six more have been mapped out.

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