Wednesday, May 9, 2012

With the Kindle in Italy

My time in Italy draws to a close. I’ll miss the views, the people, the cities, the art, the gelato, the train, the pizza, the history. And I wish I could take all the students, faculty, and staff back home with me. When I recall our sojourn here after Nancy and I get back to the States, these wonderful parts of the adventure will all form pleasant memories. But fighting for attention among them will be memories of my reading.

My reading plan worked far better than I had expected here. Most of the success is due to the Kindle. I simply couldn’t have kept up if I were depending on hard copies of all the books on the schedule. But the Kindle allowed me to bring novels, plays, poetry, and philosophical treatises all in one light box, and then made it easy to read while walking. I’ve read while walking down streets, along city walls, through parks, and around fortresses. I’ve also read a lot on the train, as well as on the plane and in hotel rooms. The Kindle has accompanied me to Florence, Cortona, Assisi, Siena, Pisa, Paris, Switzerland, Venice, Ferrara, London, and Salisbury.

The reading has all been surprisingly pleasant. Plato, Dickens, Shakespeare, and Trollope always come through. I introduced myself to Sun Tzu, Dionysius, and Confucius, and deepened my relationship with Byron, Ibsen, and Hardy. I thought Byron and Ibsen would make prickly acquaintances, but they proved to be quite congenial companions. One year ago, Thackeray and Hegel tried my patience. Had they come up one year later in the plan, would the Tuscan hills have brought out their best qualities and made them more congenial? OK, no. Hegel would have been just as difficult.

Norman, Oklahoma. It doesn’t have such a romantic ring to it as Arezzo, Italia. But soon I’ll be back in Norman, walking around our neighborhood lakes and reading in Wendy’s on campus. And I’ll enjoy those times because I’ll be making new friends such as Jonathan Edwards, Alvin Plantinga, and Suetonius, and meeting up with some old friends including Aquinas, Oliver Goldsmith, and Patrick O’Brian. Excelsior!

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