So many moments of greatness can be traced back to this. Where did an athlete’s love of the game come from? Where did the scientist’s curiosity come from? The novelist’s passion for story? The philosopher’s quest for truth? A politician’s love of history?
It came, so often, from a book given by a parent. Zeno was brought home the works of Socrates by his father, who traveled as a merchant. Margaret Thatcher had her love of reading kindled by her father. Jennifer Doudna, who we’ve talked about before, was introduced to the science of DNA by the same process.
As Walter Isaacson details, her father—an English teacher—curated a reading list for his young daughter. “Often he would bring home a book,” he writes, “either from the library or the local secondhand bookstore, for her to read. And that is how a used paperback copy of James Watson’s The Double Helix ended up on her bed one day when she was in sixth grade, waiting for her when she got home from school. “When I finished, my father discussed it with me. He liked the story and especially the very personal side of it—the human side of doing that kind of research.”
Talk about multi-generational impact. A father gives a book to her daughter which inspires her to pursue a field of study that would win her a Nobel and save millions of lives with her research in MRNA. It’s from that casual recommendation that you can trace, in some way, your COVID-19 vaccine. Children will be born who would have otherwise not existed because of that recommendation, grandparents will be around to see those kids who would have otherwise perished.
All because of a book. A parent taking the time. A parent taking an interest. A parent raising a reader. A parent who didn’t baby his daughter when it came to books. A parent who encouraged. A parent who connected. A parent just like you…if you choose.