The Avid Reader
When asked what kickstarted his love of reading, Columbus native, New Hope Middle School 8th-grade English and social studies teacher and high school tennis coach Daniel Talley admits, “Girls … or more importantly the desire to impress girls.”
He explains, “When I was in the 8th grade my reading habits were like many of my peers — I read when I was required to read, and the books I read for fun were throw-away books of little value. The summer I turned 14, I went to camp for a week.
“Each day at our meals, I sat by a female counselor — a college student from a small university in Tennessee — who spent the week telling us about her life and interests. I quickly picked up on the fact that she was interested in guys who were educated and well read. Translation: College girls like guys who read quality books.
‘When I got home I forced myself to start reading harder books. The day I opened a copy of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was a game-changer. It was the first time I had read a book that I couldn’t put down. When I was done I knew I had grasped a deeper truth. As a bonus, my strategy eventually paid off … I met and married a college girl who reads all the time.”
When he isn’t teaching, coaching or reading, Talley somehow finds time to tread the boards regularly in Columbus Community Theatre and Tennessee Williams Tribute stage productions. He and his wife, Addie, have four kids, Gabriel, Emma, Wallace (adopted from Hong Kong in 2010) and Willow (adopted from China in 2013).
1. Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller — Miller’s perspective reaches through a church culture and dares to ask them to think outside the norm.
2. Night by Elie Wiesel — Holocaust literature is never happy, but Wiesel’s memoir of his time in Auschwitz is a vivid picture of the evil of man and the cost of survival.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee — I know it is almost a cliché for the English teacher to recommend this book, but it is really worth reading, and if you haven’t read it since high school … then you need to read it again. Trust me, there is so much in the book that you probably missed the first time; it will surprise you.
4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson — Everyone knows the story, but few have actually read the book. With its discussion on the duality of man and its warnings about addiction, this book is extremely relevant in our world.
5. Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne From Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest by Stephen E. Ambrose — A great narrative about a group of citizen soldiers during World War II. If I were tasked to teach a course on leadership, this is the book I would use.