05 August 2008

Books Books Books!!

I was commenting on a friend's blog a while back, and it seemed as though everyone else commenting was reading multiple books at one time, something which I have never really been able to do with that much success. I even tried it for a time afterwards, and re-discovered what I already knew: I get hooked on one book, and forsake all others until the final page.

So I have book marks in three different...four different books now. I'm only reading one of them. I just can't seem to pick up any of the others.

I am about halfway through Karen Armstrong's A History of God. It's a brutal, academic read. It's not that Armstrong is a poor writer, quite the contrary actually, it's just that there is no easy way to compress three major monotheistic religions, as well as various Eastern mystical ideas, and track all of these distinctly different yet similar thought processes and ideas through four thousand years of history in only 400 pages. For an academically honest and thorough treatment of the subject, the narrative would have to run several volumes at least of that length. The writing is concise and brilliant, but I have yet to read more than two pages at a time without stopping to take notes.

I am also currently pounding through Ernest Gann's Fate is the Hunter. It is amazing, and the idea behind it is very interesting too. One would think that an adventurous aviator such as Gann would believe not in Fate, but in Man as the Master of His Own Fate. But alas, those who subscribe to that belief are shown to be dishonest buffoons. One cannot fly for very long before coming to the same conclusion as Gann, that the question of Fate is not a question of either or, it is a with-and. Pilots are skilled, calculating men of discipline who are very much capable of managing every circumstance they encounter, yet as part of their chosen profession, they willingly give over control of their very lives to forces much larger than they could ever imagine. This book should be required reading for anyone remotely interested in aviation, and I have been kicking myself regularly for not discovering it sooner.

When I finish with Gann, I will pick up where I left off in Eldredge's Wild at Heart, which still has a bookmark in it, to remind me to stop and take notes next time I read it. I blasted through it too quickly the first time around.

The fourth book I have a bookmark in is one that I haven't really spent much time with yet. I have glanced through it briefly, but not focused on it much. It is a copy of Ernie Pyle's Brave Men. Ernie Pyle was one of the most honest, entertaining, thoughtful, and colorful war correspondents to come out of WWII. A great portion of his time was actually spent with the troops, eating their rations, sleeping in their foxholes, sometimes not much farther than a mortar shell away from the front lines. As a matter of fact, Pyle was killed in combat on Ie Shima, a Japanese-held island during it's invasion by the U.S. in April of 1945. Brave Men is the third book of four in the collection of his wartime correspondence. It is a collection of his dispatches detailing the Allied effort in the Mediterranean and up through Italy. Interestingly, the copy I received was given to my by my Dad, who found it in the dollar bin at a local used book store. It turns out it is part of the eighth printing of the first edition, and was printed in 1945, and is nearly in mint condition. Not bad for a dollar!

Another recent addition to my library is Paths of Destruction, a local book published by the Grand Rapids Historical Society. It is a collection of eyewitness accounts and historical examinations of the tornadoes that ripped through West Michigan in April of 1953. The book has special meaning for me and my family, because my dad, my aunt, and my uncle lived through it, along with my grandparents. As a matter of fact, the tornado came through within spitting distance from where they lived at the time. It also came through very close to the house that I grew up in, and the tornado's path came about half a mile or so from where I now live. It is definitely a part of our family story, and we were very excited and interested in this project.

Anyway, that's my bookshelf at present. I have a few books in my "on-deck circle", so I hope to get to them on our camping trip next week. I'm really excited to read them.


1 comment:

-Tim said...

I know exactly what you mean... I'm currently reading "A Book From The Sky" as part of my early reviewers deal with LibraryThing, Also I am reading "Stone" a book by my current favorite British author Adam Roberts (who I plan to blog on in the future) and I'm slogging my way through 1421: The Year China Discovered The World. Very cool book, well written and researched, but like you said about the History Of God... it can take a lot out of you, with so much to digest. And of course all the required reading for my Composition class I'm taking this summer.

Keep it up!