Perhaps there is no better way of measuring a person of liberal education than by the number of substantives he is able to use with familiarity and discrimination. We remember how Scott tried a score of openings with the man on the coach and got no further until he hit upon 'bent leather'; then the talk went merrily for the man was a saddler. We have all had such experiences and know to our shame that we ourselves have victimised interlocutors who have not been able to find our particular 'bent leather.' Vol. 6 pg. 261
This quote filled me with conviction. You see, my husband and I had just been talking about my frustration in trying to engage others in conversation. Inevitably we end up talking about all that goes on in my life, namely boys, books and bovines. Now I love talking about all these things because that's where I invest my time and energy. But I would love to talk with others about what is important to them...to meet someone where they are and learn from them. After reading this quote I realized that, although I have 16,000 books on my shelves and spend a good deal of time reading those books, I often choose books that are within my own interests. So I've determined to broaden my horizons! I have chosen three books to begin learning about topics I know very little about.
The Romance of Physics by Keith Gordon Irwin - I chose this for two reasons. My oldest son is an engineering major with a love of physics. I, on the other hand, am completely ignorant in the fields of math and science.
Flower Pressing by Marge Eaton - This looks fun and might be a good topic to engage a flower lover.
Spice Ho! by Agnes Danforth Hewes - I admit this book is probably a little less practical but our conversation turned to the subject of the importance and impact of the spice trade after our Bible reading of the Queen of Sheba bringing spices to Solomon. I'd like to know more.
Think of the benefits of reading widely. Ministering to others by taking a knowledgable interest in what interests them cannot be underestimated. In a culture where people are merely disposable commodities, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of others through conversation. It might even be possible that some of us may discover an interest or talent with which to supplement the family income. At the very least we can marvel at the diversity of gifts God has given. And it's no shame to say, "I know nothing about that. Tell me more."
Read a book and start a conversation.