I was able to get through all of the books that I took with me on my trip last week, with the exception of Atlas Shrugged, which I am still chugging along on (it is a re-read, but clocking in at 1069 pages, it is by far not a "consumed in an afternoon" event). By the time I am done, that will be 2148 pages in a little under two weeks. Once upon at time, this was not at all unusual - at the moment, I cannot remember the last time I gave myself the luxury of reading so much.
The books, as you may recall, were:
A Christian Manifesto, Pollution and The Death of Man, The Great Evangelical Disaster, How Should We Then Live? - Francis Schaeffer
The One Straw Revolution - Masanobu Fukuoka
Micro-Eco Farming - Barbara Berst Adams
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
It is an interesting mix, intellectually speaking: Schaeffer, the Christian apologist and social thinker; Rand, the atheist and Objectivist; Fukuoka, originally a biologist who surrendered modern life to live on his family farm and practice "do nothing" farming; and Adams, who moved to a small farm in Washington state and created a life for herself and her family. All, in their own way, spiritual (even Rand, even if it the spirit of "the best that is within us").
I do not always get my selection of books right when I travel - sometimes they are so disparate in interest and subject that I gyrate wildly from Stoic philosophy to sheep to 10th century Byzantine history - but for some reason, this was the precisely right mix for cogitation.
All of them, in different venues, pinpointing the issues of aspects of the larger Western Civilization. All of them, in different ways, proposing resolutions to those problems.
To be honest, realizing that thread between them all surprised me.
I do not know that I should be surprised by that, though. Schaeffer and Rand both deal with the outcome of societies based on then arising trends at the time of their publication, trends which have manifested themselves in full today. And Fukuoka and Adams are two sides of the same coin: one (Fukuoka) published in the 1970's when the concept of ecological sound farming was really appearing in the U.S.; Adams writing 30 years later, of how that had manifested itself in practice.
This gave me a great deal to ponder and think about - things which, of course, need a lot more in place than an introductory "What I Read This Summer" sort of post. But maybe, at a higher level, I can at least pick out two general observations
1) Good books continue to be relevant - The most "recent" of the books I read was from almost 20 years ago (Berst Adams). Fukuoka was even farther back (almost 50 years ago), Schaeffer between 40 and 60 years ago, and Rand almost a staggering 70 years ago. Yet each of the books is not "out of date" - whereas I am pretty sure, based on the titles that we see for current events now, most of the current event books written at the same time are also now of historical interest only, not able to inform the future. (Hint: Read good books.)
2) I probably do not read nearly as much as I should - As I posted above, this was a great many pages of books which were not just entertaining (although they are), but have the sort of thought in them that requires underlining (sometimes on top of my previous underlines) and thought and, hopefully, application. I do not prioritize this as much as I should, which is a shame. It makes my thinking, my writing, and my actions more meaningful.
With the way society has been devolving I don't believe Rand's book will ever go "out of date" TB. Find that to be rather sobering and appalling at the same time.ReplyDelete
Nylon12, I agree. To be fair, I do not have the awareness perspective to say that, for example, 20 years ago it was equally true - but I suspect the precursors were there, for those that look.Delete
Literally in the week I read it, I found at least two instances where fictional events in the book were replicated in the real world. That is a little to close for my comfort.
A friend back in 1970 gave me Atlas Shrugged. Started it early afternoon and finished it at 7 the next morning. Stopped to give kids and hubby dinner and breakfast but never put it down. Sent the kids to school and slept the day away. The next morning I started the book again but it took me a couple of days. So far I've read this book 13 times. A.S. is a trilogy with Atlas her masterpiece. Earlier she had written a play where the audience decided the fate of the accused. It's excellent. If you can come across that book I would buy it as of course when you loan books they never seem to find their way home.ReplyDelete
GL - I did not read it until the early 2000's, as it was one of those "on my list to read, but daunting due to the length". It flew by once I started (I am still sucked in every time as well). I like it more than Anthem, as it is more polished.Delete
She also wrote an amazing book on fictional writing that remains one of the best I have read on the subject.
And yes, I buy them. Not only because loaners go away, but it does prevent it from getting "deleted".
I do not read nearly as much as I did in my youth. Back then, without a television in the house, I literally read for many hours a day, everyday. These days for some reason, my mind just can't take that much. If I get in an hour a day, I'm doing pretty good. Sometimes on weekends I can get in more but they get spaced out by a series of micronaps.ReplyDelete
Ed, I have that problem too -honestly, I think some of that has to do with the fact that I have "let my mind go" by watching more things (which impacts my attention span). I need to retrain myself.Delete
I'm enjoying Mr. Fukuoka's book 'Sowing Seeds in the Desert: Natural Farming, Global Restoration, and Ultimate Food Security' and the 'One Straw Revolution'. I started the Sowing Seeds first, then downloaded the other for my travels. A little backwards since the One Straw Revolution was first but I've found myself reading both at the same time.ReplyDelete
I'm eclectic.... lol!
Hobo - I will need a report on "Sowing Seeds in the Desert"! I have it on my list, but have never purchased it. He remains one of my great agricultural heroes.Delete
If you ever want a list, let me know . . .ReplyDelete
Absolutely, sir. Tbeucail@protonmail.com. Thank you.Delete
I could not finish Atlas last I tried, a little dry and too long. But, I do recommend "Unintended Consequences" by John Ross if you have not imbibed. 600 pages and captivating, the last line is outstanding. Rereading it for the first time and first time rereading a book.ReplyDelete
Bear Claw - Atlas Shrugged is certainly a bit dry - I often have picked it up and thought to myself "Do I really want to crawl through the first 100-150 pages before I get to the stuff I like?" And then I do it, and like it.Delete
I had not heard of Unintended Consequences and looked it up. I find it interesting it is currently out of print and at one point at least, was considered one of the most sought after out of print books.
Digital copies here. Last I looked hard back was 500 bucks on line. No my copy is not hardbackDelete
Bear Claw - Thank you so very much!Delete
Wow. That is a huge increase in price. Makes me wonder what is in the book; with that kind of demand one would think that it would have gone into reprint.