The Joy of Reading: A Tale of Tales

Reading is a pleasure, no matter where you are from. I thought I would have some fun in sharing the joy of reading by bringing books around the world with me, asking my host families and friends to sign them, and then giving the books to my friend’s children. This page will chart the progress of the book signings, as I will be adding photos along the way…

Meet the Children

I chose my favorite pictures of the children from their youngest days. They have grown quite a bit since these were taken!

The Children’s Books That Will Circle the Globe

  • Great Folk Tales of the World was published recently by Anitha Murthy. Anitha and I met while working on assignment as consultants in the 1990’s at a company called LTX in Westwood, Massachusetts. She loves reading, is very active in her local library, and is now a published author in addition to her many other talents. Her book will be given to Fran, granddaughter of my friend Nadine in Belgium; Elena, daughter of Humphrey Fellow Eonyoung from the Republic of Korea; and Vaishavi, daugher of Chhavi who is my central point of contact during this trip.
  • The Scout’s Campfire Cookbook for Kids is going to be given to Brent, the grandson of my friend Nadine in Belgium. Nadine and I have been international pen-pal’s for the past forty years. Since Brent loves scouting and his father loves to cook, I thought they would enjoy preparing some recipes over the campfire together.

Libraries and Bookshops

Where do you go for the next book to read? While ordering online may be convenient, consider exploring your local library or bookshop. There are beautiful shops and libraries all around the world, as you will see from the photographs that follow. I will keep adding more as the journey continues…

Signing the Books

Dear Brent, Elena, Fran, and Vaishavi,
As we sign these books for you, we wish you lots of love and a very, very bright future ahead!


Fran and Brent have just received their books… and I will be mailing the books going to Elena and Vaishavi after I reach North Uist.

…and now Vaishavi has received hers!! Here she is, along with proud Mom & Dad, Chhavi and Sai:

There is one more book to deliver, and I know it’s on its way… (This is fun! Now I know how Santa Claus must feel…)

September 5th, 2019 — Elena’s Book has arrived in Seoul!!

Congratulations, Elena!! The book you are holding has not only traveled around the world for 28,054 miles, but it also flew from my home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, back to you in Seoul — another 6,798 miles. That means that your book has traveled 34,852 miles to find you!! I am happy that you are now together. Thank you for being part of this wonderful journey, Elena! Also shown is Elena with her proud mom Eonyoung.

Here is a listing along with a map showing all of the places where this book has traveled:

  • Dublin, California
  • Nadi, Fiji
  • Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
  • Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Baku, Azerbaijan
  • Paris, France
  • Lauwe, Belgium
  • Somerset, England
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Lochmaddy on North Uist, Scotland
  • Hopkinton, Massachusetts
  • (and back to Seoul!)

Additional Books Making The Journey

There are two other books that I have been carrying and asking friends to sign. Originally they were just meant to be read while travelling, but in the back of my mind I felt it was important to get them signed as well — although I didn’t know why at first. Lately the reasons have become clear…

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne is a classic adventure tale of a journey made in the 19th century by means far more challenging than what I have been doing. Ironically, the main character’s name is similar to my own: Phileas Fogg vs Phyllis Doig. In just about every other respect, however, our tales are quite different.

Mine was not a bet nor a challenge of any kind, nor was it a race to be won. In fact I wanted to step away from a life in which every day felt like a competition or a challenge in one form or another. (Why do we do that, or is it just an American thing?)

Instead, I laid out a rough itinerary that brought me to various airports and train stations around the world, and placed my trust in those I was visiting to manage the details according to their wishes. We exchanged little else in terms of planning, except that (1) they asked me for general suggestions as to my interests and (2) I asked them to answer a few questions around protocols, language, currency, and other basic things that would be helpful to know in advance. The outcome was beautiful, as you can see from the stories and photos throughout this website.

Even with regard to the band Runrig, I had only a rough plan to be in Scotland on the one year anniversary of their final concert with the hope that “something” would happen… and then it did, in the form of the premiere of their concert DVD called “The Last Dance” at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Faith and serendipity go hand-in-hand it seems.

When you open this particular copy of Jules Verne’s novel, you will find a signature page filled with well wishes and names from around the world. This is my way of rewriting the story to be one of cooperation, not competition: after all, there is no prize, there was no race. There is only the joy in living our best.

I gave the book to Norman Macleod, who manages the Runrig exhibit at Taigh Chearsabhagh museum in North Uist, as an expression of thanks to the band and to this island for these restorative final days in Scotland before heading home.

Leadership in Turbulent Times, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, explores the lives of four US Presidents (Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson), and the experiences which cultivated their leadership styles.

I was surprised at how different these leadership styles were; I didn’t realize that there could be so many kinds, and all successful. This made me think differently about what it means to be a leader, whether in facing a crisis or in working to achieve goals.

Also surprising were the significant setbacks or “crucible events” that each man withstood over the course of years. To not only come back but thrive under such circumstances was truly inspirational.

The book is so rich with meaning and life lessons, the most important coming from the page of signatures — a reminder that this around-the-world journey would not have been possible without the very significant time, effort, and caring of my host families and friends. I think I’ll keep this one.