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CCFB News» October 2020

Downwind "Impact Books"

10/01/2020 @ 7:45 am | By Bob Rohrer CAE, FBCM, Manager

September 6 was “National Read a Book Day”. Leading up to that day, the American Society of Association Executives posed the following question to its members:


What book(s) has had a surprising impact on your life?


What an Interesting question to cause me to think and reflect on books that impacted me and to analyze why!

My mother, the beekeeper, has always been an avid reader (she learned to be a beekeeper by reading). She is much more likely to sit on the deck reading a book than to ever turn on a TV. I can always remember Mom reading stories to me and my siblings when we were very young. I credit Mom for instilling in me a love for reading which has impacted me greatly.


Favorite books from my youth:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, 1952 – Who has not read this fun story of a farm setting featuring talking animals and spiders? It lit up my farm kid imagination early on in my life.


The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1937 – This creation of a strange world inhabited by combination of dwarves, elves, wizards, orcs, men, hobbits, giant spiders, etc. fascinated me in 5th grade and beyond. My teacher, Mr. Nelson, would read short segments of the book after lunch each day. I couldn’t take the slow pace of reading, so I borrowed the book from Mr. Nelson and read it all that same night by flashlight.


The Hardy Boys… Secret of the Caves by Franklin W Dixon (Leslie McFarlane), 1929 – I received a copy of this book for my 9th or 10th birthday from an aunt/uncle and was hooked on the Hardy boys from that point forward, reading it and the others over and over. I still collect the books today.


Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1933 – These farm life stories were captured through the eyes of a boy and I could envision myself in the role. I read this book to my boys when they were young.


“We Were There” with the Pony Express by William O Steele, 1956 – This and other “We Were There” books provided historic perspective of adventures by young boys and girls with a purpose during life-changing times which was a great way to learn about history.


Sackett’s Land by Louis L’Amour, 1961 – This tale of chivalry, determination, the importance of family, and risk-taking to start a new life was great entertainment and food for thought when I was in high school.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960 – For this teenager living in a rural, primarily white farming area, this book provided me a glimpse of racial inequality, injustice, and challenge of right versus wrong in the world.


Favorite books from my adulthood:

Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, 1995 – I listened to this massive book on tape during training runs as I prepared for a half-marathon in 2001. I found I didn’t want to stop running.


The Bible by many authors, centuries – While I have read from the Bible all my life, it is in recent years that I’ve really been able to appreciate the wisdom packed within its many pages. I’m a big fan of the fruits of the spirit.


The Race for Relevance by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, 2011 – This book, focused on exploring five radical changes for Associations and non-for-profits, has provided me the basis for boldly considering new strategies to fulfill our purpose as a Cook County Farm Bureau as society and membership changes occur.


Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy, 1983 – This startling realistic novel had global forces coming together, putting World War III on the brink. I have since read nearly every Tom Clancy book.


The Cook County Farm Bureau 100-Year coffee table book, by a bunch of farmers and staff, 2020 – This production captured images, stories, and testimonials of farm families and leaders that came together to show the sacrifices made to build and maintain a successful organization dedicated to the success of area farming and agriculture.

So why did these books impact me then and now? I gained insights on what I felt was an is important in life:


  • The future is ours to design…through the good and the bad. And one’s imagination can broaden or limit the possibilities.
  • Good should triumph over evil.
  • Family pride and protection ranks high.
  • Light is so much brighter than darkness.
  • The characteristics of courage, wisdom, bravery, creativity, self-confidence, hard work, and faith resonate.
  • History matters.
  • Farm life can be full of fun and adventures and ultimately stories!


I would love to hear what book or books have influenced you in your personal or professional life. Email me at [email protected]!

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