The clocking is ticking away the days, inexorable. This coming Sunday, I will be flying from Charlotte to LA, where I’ll “enjoy” an 11hr layover, then fly from LA to Brisbane, QLD, Australia. And amid my attempts to get my suitcases under 50lbs apiece, where is the real countdown occurring? On my bookshelf, of course.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading away on my Kindle, but I was just longing to get a real book into my hands. And then I realized that there were several books sitting on my shelf, and had been since Christmas, that I still hadn’t read. Ok, I haven’t read everything on my bookshelf, but at least two of these were bought within the last six months, started, and never finished. Don’t ask me why or how, I somehow got sidetracked, and didn’t come back to them. Considering how badly I’d wanted to read them, this really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Anyway, my copies of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism (Kevin D. Williamson) and America by Heart (Sarah Palin) are sitting there, and I’m getting on a plane soon. With no room for extra books. I am absolutely out of room, and books can’t come with me. So, of course, I suddenly want to finish reading them. Before I’m condemned to the endless monotony of clicking a Kindle button to turn the pages. Ok, it’s not really that bad, but you get the idea.
Luckily, I am an extremely fast reader, and do not need to sit on the couch all day long in order to accomplish these goals. I finished The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, took a brief interlude to skim through my new copy of The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, and then picked up in America by Heart, right where I had left off.
Ok, the Twilight guide isn’t non-fiction, but you did read that correctly. I love the Twilight books and enjoy the movies, though they aren’t nearly as good as the books. I am no giddy teeny-bopper who acts like a Beatles fan whenever Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner’s names are mentioned. These actors did their jobs well, almost living up to the characters in the books. When I originally tripped over the books, it was shortly before Breaking Dawn was published, and I read the first three books in about 4-5 days. I did have a job, after all. And I stayed up until 4am several nights running. Those were a long several weeks, waiting for the final book to come out. : )
So, of course, since I enjoy reading about the back stories to books and movies (I do own the movie guides to The Lord of the Rings, and several other movies), I had a great time reading some of the extra information in this book, too. But my favorite part is probably the opening chapter, where there’s an author-to-author interview between Stephenie Meyer and Shannon Hale. As I like to write, listening to the story of how Meyer wrote her books, and all Hale’s insights on the subject were fascinating. How she… well, wrote her story for herself, and it accidentally turned into a book. That’s something that I can understand.
Back to Sarah Palin… I’m still in the first third of her book, but she writes well, and as I’m extremely interested in conservative politics and reducing the size of our government (and national debt), I know I’ll enjoy this one, just as well as I enjoyed her first book, Going Rogue.
By the way, if you’ve never heard of the P.I.G. guides, then I’d highly recommend them. The Politically Incorrect Guides cover a range of topics, including American history, Western civilization, science, the Civil War, the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, the Vietnam War, global warming, and English & American literature. Great topics, all of them. I do not like political correctness, and I also don’t like the fact that the history (and everything else in school) seemed to be written from the liberal point of view. How else did I get taught that FDR and JFK were our greatest presidents? I’ve learned so much more from my reading SINCE leaving school, and forgotten as much as possible of what school taught me.
Strangely enough, I never particularly liked English class, in school, not because I didn’t like to read (no laughing, I heard that!), but because they always made us read some pretty awful books, and even the good ones, we had to “dissect” thoroughly, in writing. No teacher could ever make me like The Lord of the Flies, 1984, or The Metamorphosis, but they could make me thoroughly abhor The Call of the Wild, Jacob Have I Loved, and just about anything Shakespeare. Sacrilege, you say? Well, as far as Shakespeare is concerned, one of my favorite 11th grade teachers taught us MacBeth. I couldn’t stand the Shakespearean tragedies, but I slightly tolerated them for the love of my teacher. On the other hand, I had a drama teacher that finally taught me to understand Shakespeare’s comedies and one of the tragedies (Romeo and Juliet).
So, still loving to read and learn, I willingly (under no duress, I assure you) bought The Politically Incorrect Guide to English & American Literature, and loved it! The author, Elizabeth Kantor, made all of the books interesting, even the ones I had hated in school. It made me want to go and reread every one of them, starting with Beowulf, Chaucer, and Milton. Admittedly, I haven’t done it (read all the books mentioned), but that’s what the P.I.G. books will do. They make suggestions in the sidebars about other books that you will like on the same subject, or books that liberal politicians don’t want you to read. If I read every book those authors ever recommended, I’d be reading until I was at least 500 years old.
The books are written by a range of authors, some of whom you’ve heard of, and some you haven’t. But even if you don’t agree with everything they say, they’ll give you a new viewpoint to consider on every subject, a viewpoint that makes sense and is backed up by numerous references to the books they researched. I’ve read almost all of them, own about half of them, and would like so much to reread some of them that I’ll probably pick up a few of them on my Kindle.
Ahhhh, my Kindle. I have it so loaded with classic non-fiction, I don’t even know where to start. I’d like to read every bit of it, but I know I’ll never manage it all. Even my voracious reading habits and ability to read quickly won’t get me through it all before I’m about 200 years old. I have writings and letters by Robert E. Lee and speeches by Thomas Jefferson and Calvin Coolidge.
For any of you who underestimate Calvin Coolidge, by the way, Ronald Reagan looked up to him as one of our greatest Presidents. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, he said a lot. Some people talk of him as a do-nothing President, but that’s because he knew that the government was supposed to do the little required of it, and then stay out of our business. Would that our present President knew this.
A year or two ago, I read a book by Benjamin Wiker, called 10 Books Every Conservative Must Read: Plus Four Not to Miss, and One Impostor. A fascinating list is included, most of which I haven’t read, but I felt a little better when he included fiction such as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. I won’t explain why he chose these, but it really was a wonderful study of all these books. And so, I purposed to read most of them, if not all, eventually.
On my Kindle, I have the works of Edmund Burke and G.K. Chesterton, of which Wiker included in his list, Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. I also have (in e-book format) The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers, Hilaire Belloc’s The Servile State, and Aristotle’s Politics. Ah, the joys of free online books! Heavy reading, you say? Well, certainly, but so intriguing and worthwhile. Don’t worry, I usually fit in several fiction books either during my non-fiction reading, or directly after. You can overdose on too much serious reading, sometimes.
To read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, where the Frenchman traveled all over the U.S. during the 1830’s, trying to figure out what made the Americans tick. I’ve heard he did a pretty good job of it, and hopefully our present administration won’t completely undo what de Tocqueville observed about us. To learn about the rise and fall of the Confederacy from the writings of Jefferson Davis (Yes, I believe secession was legal and the South should have been allowed to secede), read the writings of Samuel Adams, and consider The Life of George Washington, as written by Chief Justice John Marshall.
Aren’t books wonderful things? Even when they’re electronic!