Reader Spotlight: David Trent of Laurel, MD

Consuming youthful passions aren't always what popular culture would have us believe. David Trent's insatiable appetite is for books on philosophy, religion and history.

Asked how he'd like to be identified, Trent, 21, replied: "What a question! I've actually been wondering about this for years now, and the question continues."

This modern day seeker and Laurel resident currently attends Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. "I was a music major at Johns Hopkins for my first semester of college, and I realized that it wasn't the major for me, so I transferred to HCC as an anthropology major, and since then I changed it again to Philosophy/Religious studies. I'm kind of a sophomore/junior who should have/ would have been a senior."

David Trent

But he's always been a voracious reader. "I seem to read everywhere I go. Recently I've been reading a lot in my kitchen as I cook and eat, usually in the morning. Yesterday I spent hours reading in a Buddhist temple, and I spent some time reading in the bookstore earlier today.

"My favorite bookstore is the Border's in Columbia, Md. It has the most extensive religion, philosophy, and history sections that I know of, and really good white tea, which you can order pots of."

A discussion with Trent about his intense love affair with books illuminates a vivid fascinating interior world--like brilliant prismatic crystals hidden inside a geode--often found beneath the surfaces of the dedicated readers in our midst.

What books are you currently reading?
I am currently reading: The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra , by Rob Preece, The Buddha and his Teachings, by Samuel Bercholz and Sherab Chodzin Kohn, which is an anthology of Buddhist texts and writings , The Ramayana , by Ramesh Menon, Shakti: Realm of the Divine Mother, by Vanamali, Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland, and The Story of Britain, by Rebecca Fraser.

I would never recommend reading seven books concurrently. I'm just usually too inquisitive to commit myself to one book at a time. A chronic problem of mine has been to start a book and move on without finishing it, so recently I've been trying to read two to three chapters of each book I'm reading per day. It feels like i'm giving myself homework, but I enjoy it.

What do you think of these books so far?
In general they are all informative and well-written. The two that stick out are The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra and The Buddha and His Teachings. The first because it is written by a British Jungian psychologist who has been a practicing Buddhist since the early 1970s, and has a really good grasp on both systems, which allows him to accurately transmit the essence of advanced Tibetan teachings to a Western audience.

The second book is interesting because it is an anthology of writings and texts from throughout the Buddhist world, so it contains writings from modern teachers like Chögyam Trungpa and Thich Nhat Hanh, who represent the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism and Vietnamese Zen Buddhism respectively, as well as excerpts from much older texts like the Dhammapada and the Heart Sutra.

How do you find the next books you plan to read?
I make frequent trips to the bookstore, where I find most of the books I plan to read, but I have been trying to buy more used books online.

What do you think of the new electronic book readers?
I haven't tried an electronic book reader and I have mixed feelings on them. On one side they save space, trees and resources, but on the other side they are kind of creepy. I feel like our lives are overly mechanized as it is and I don't want to spend more hours of my life in front of a screen.

How did your passion for books begin?
My mother seems to have a similar passion for books. She also seems to have great difficulty reading only one book at a time. I think my passion for reading really arises from an inherently deep seated constantly burning curiosity that drives me to learn as much as I can, although this "drive to learn" is usually confined to history and religion/spirituality/philosophy. Unfortunately for my GPA, I've never been driven to study any form of math.

Do you have any all-time favorite books?
I do! Off the top of my head they are: The Tao Teh Ching, by Lao Tzu, "Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey", by Jennifer Ferraro, Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy, by Wolf-Dieter Storl, Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, and "The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History of the Poles and their Culture".

By Mary Ishimoto Morris |  June 22, 2009; 9:39 PM ET Mary Morris , Nonfiction
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I've always liked the kind of people who have so many curiosities and interests they keep changing majors as you have done. It's also reflected in your reading choices.

A friend of mine whose whole life up until he was twenty was totally consumed by the humanities (I had always admired his knowledge of literature, art and music in such a young man). Six years later he has just received a PhD in biology (a hugely vibrant and relevant field this century). I remember Dava Sobel once saying something like it took her seven years to get her undergraduate degree as she had changed majors five times.

Posted by: lheffelkcrrcom | June 24, 2009 11:15 AM

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Lheffelkcrrcom. I love it!

Posted by: marymorris | June 24, 2009 5:47 PM

Oh, you're welcome, Mary! Nice to hear back from you.

Posted by: lheffelkcrrcom | June 26, 2009 10:04 AM

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