On Being Human, by Woodrow Wilson (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1916)
The 28th President of the United States published this lovely little volume, a rumination on those qualities which mark us as distinct from the other members of the animal kingdom. The first chapters of this extended essay are a paean to books and how reading and sharing information are important components of our humanity. Here is passion indeed from this preacher's son:
You devour a book meant to be read, not because you would fill yourself or have an anxious care to be nourished, but because it contains such stuff as it makes the mind hungry to look upon. Neither do you read it to kill time, but to lengthen time, rather, adding to it its natural usury by living the more abundantly while it lasts, joining another's life and thought to your own.
President Wilson's tenure in office and his advocacy of the League of Nations were hampered by his many health problems, sadly, and one can only wonder what world events might have been altered if this stalwart humanitarian had been well. If only more book lovers ruled the world.