What They’re Reading: H. Ralph Vartan, CEO of The Vartan Group
As a child “superuser,” H. Ralph Vartan visited the East Shore Area Library weekly. He loved getting lost in the stacks.
“I got to the point where I was going in for books for second and third readings because I’d been through all of them,” says Vartan – developer, civic leader, and pianist who sometimes performs in the area.
Books explore critical issues – such as racial equality and social justice – and have the power to change minds.
Without the written word and libraries, “our community and civilization would always be struggling to achieve our potential.”
What are you reading and why those books?
It’s rare for me that I have multiple books open, but I have three right now:
For Christmas, I got a beautiful book, Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times by Alan Walker. (This title will be added to The Library's collection soon.) It’s excellent. The author treats his subject with love. I dabble at playing Chopin, but with that book on my nightstand, I’ve been on a Chopin kick in my free time. It makes it much more beautiful to listen to his music, and for a pianist like me, it makes it much more fun to play.
The next is off the beaten path, but I highly recommend it – The Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo. It’s hilarious and depressing and enlightening and mellow and charming all at once. It’s a great introspective read because it makes you turn inward.
And finally, I keep the Bible by the bedside during the season of Lent. It feels like a nice way to supplement the observance of the season. It’s an amazing work. Aside from the Christian persuasion aspect of it, there’s a reason it’s stood the test of time. If you read it with an introspective point of view, it can do a lot for you as a reader.
What does The Library mean to the community you serve?
Can you imagine a community without a library, let alone Harrisburg without its beautiful one on Front Street (McCormick Riverfront Library) and on Third Street (Madeline L. Olwewine Memorial Library). Being able to walk down the stacks is like going to a great art museum, wandering around, and being surprised and delighted. Books are a record of the thoughts of humanity. They’re written by men and women from different centuries, from all across the globe. The love of books is the love of mankind.