What are you reading this summer? Arts and Entertainment editor Brian Hughes recently asked north Okaloosa County officials and business leaders for their lists. (See “Community leaders share their summer books,” July 3, Page A6).

What are you reading this summer? Arts and Entertainment editor Brian Hughes recently asked north Okaloosa County officials and business leaders for their lists. (See “Community leaders share their summer books,” July 3, Page A6).

First thought upon reading their answers? Encouraged.

Our public officials could read the “Twilight” series on their own time, and that would be fine if their leadership is up to par, but it’s comforting to know that Crestview Mayor David Cadle and Councilman Thomas Gordon stay engaged with intellectual works like Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Kennedy” and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” respectively.

Second thought upon reading the answers? Wishful.

“Atlas Shrugged,” Rand’s longest novel at 1,192 pages — and a book that is positively polarizing, with some cheering for the author’s philosophy of objectivism while others jeer at complete capitalism — also is on my list. The page is dog-eared where Dagny Taggart, the protagonist, finds “Galt’s Gulch,” where business leaders have gone to strike against encroaching government.

Also dog-eared in the nightstand drawer are Freud’s “General Psychological Theory,” Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscovering Catholicism” and Geoffrey Berg’s “The Six Ways of Atheism: New Logical Disproofs of the Existence of God.” Yes, the last two conflict with each other, but I think it’s beneficial to understand multiple worldviews and not live in an echo chamber.

But I digress.

I wish I had more time to read these titles, which cover serious topics and require complete devotion. Like County Commissioner Wayne Harris, I have two — and sometimes more — books going at once, so that stretches the reading time.

I’ve always been a bookworm, attending library summer reading camps as a child, participating in Pizza Hut’s Book It! program and writing and selling illustrated books from “Thomas’ Library,” a venture that my dear, departed father fully supported.

However, professionally reading text all day and some nights makes you want to unwind other ways, so I usually enjoy a more passive pastime, like movies. (Sunday, that meant finally unwrapping and watching the “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” Blu-ray collecting dust in the TV console — hey, it’s just the first part, so it doesn’t spoil the book’s ending.) Or reading softer fare.

For the latter, the News Bulletin’s “Check it Out” recently came to the rescue, with Crestview Public Library director Jean Lewis’ recommendation of Jorge Cruise’s “8 Minutes in the Morning,” an exercise and diet guide that helps busy or on-the-go people find time to focus on their health.

Evening routine also includes reading print newspapers and magazines and browsing national news websites and industry blogs like Mediaite and Huffington Post’s media page.

However, I’m thankful for books. There’s nothing like their soft touch or cracking open a new one, smelling the pages of an old one and gaining knowledge from something that originally emerged from the earth.

A laptop computer makes an illustrated book beside it seem like a fossil. Still, the computer seems too futuristic. Computers are cold, hard, they glow and are entirely artificial. Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker said it perfectly: they’re aliens. And who really wants to curl up with a Kindle?

An email circulating our newsroom lately links to “The Last Bookshop,” a British satirical fantasy that has gained 68,000 YouTube hits since its April release. The 20-minute film follows a child who mindlessly watches multiple Internet and television channels simultaneously in a not-too-distant future when people can swipe through virtual screens. When the system malfunctions, he goes outside and explores. A short journey down the cobblestone leads him to the last bookshop, with shelves of bound, foreign objects that he can’t navigate.

Nevertheless, he learns about books, with the shopkeeper’s help, and grows to love them. There’s more to the story — and it’s no happy ending — but see for yourself.

In any business, you evolve or you die. Innovation often brings progress, and dotcoms have done wonders for the job market. However, at some point, particularly with books, there’s a concern. What if we lose something precious forever — an experience that we too often take for granted?

Cracking open a new book, smelling an old book’s pages, and connecting with nature.

What's your view? Write a letter to the editor or tweet News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni @cnbeditor.