A voracious reader, I would need several more lifetimes to read all the books I long to read. But that’s not to be, so reading wisely is a priority for me.
My interests are in some ways broad but in other ways quite narrow. Short stories and novels about war, about soldiers and Marines, are one of my favorite genres. Books like The Things They Carried and For Whom the Bell Tolls remain among my loves.
I had never read John Knowles’ A Separate Peace until the last two days. It’s classified as a war novel, but that is somewhat misleading. A motif undergirding the story of Gene and Phineas (Finny) and Devon (their school) is certainly World War II, but there are no explosions, no bombs, no artillery, or tanks. Instead, the wars are internal. Physical injuries are in the novel, that’s for sure, but not in the way I was expecting. This is primarily a novel about insecurity, about boys coming to grips with manhood, about jealousy, misunderstanding, rivalry, and pretensions. I am embarrassed that I just now have read it, because it was a moving piece.
A second book I read this week was Carl Trueman’s Strange New World. If you want to understand the isms, the ideas and ideologies, and the worldviews that have brought the West to its present state of clown world, where men are now ‘birthing persons’ and attorneys cannot define what a woman is, and children in government schools are indoctrinated to be victims and to judge themselves and others by skin color, read this book. My copy is highlighted so often and the marginalia so pervasive, it looks like I have read it for years instead of over just the last 48 hours. Read this book, if you want to understand the times and know what you ought to do.
The last book I read over the last few days was soul food. It reminded me that, even though I live in clown world, the world was not always so upside down, at least for the clear-headed. A.A. Milne’s classic stories, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh reminded me, via Pooh, Rabbit, Piglet, Eeyore, and Christopher Robin, that some creatures do know what right is and actually sometimes pursue it.