Thursday, July 5, 2012

Boy, You’ve Got to Carry That Weight

Over the last few days, I’ve been juggling my schedule to deal with the consequences of my recent travels. For one thing, I ended up with several unfinished books. I had a long book for plane flights, a very long off-Plan book I was trying to slip in, and two books that were interrupted by the most recent trip. But another problem has to do with deciding which books I can walk with and which I can’t.

Among the unfinished books, Hoogenboom’s biography of Hayes ended the most satisfactorily. Hayes ended his life surrounded by loved ones and happy with what he had achieved, and Hoogenboom added an afterword that summarized his subject’s ideals and accomplishments: prison reform, a booming economic recovery, increased power of the Presidency, public support of rights and citizenship for Native Americans, and education for people of all races. Hoogenboom blames this progressive President for only one major mistake: had he chosen to serve a second term, the biographer claims, he may well have found a way to protect voting rights for southern blacks eighty years before the Civil Rights Act. Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars ended the way it ended: the chapter on Domitian closed like all the others. Perhaps Suetonius left the book without a summary because he hoped to go on to write about Nerva and Trajan. By contrast, I was just glad to be done with Ken Follett’s World Without End. I liked the first book pretty well, but by 70% of the way through the sequel, I was thinking about Mark Twain’s Literary Rule no. 10.

Another morning walker I met on the path yesterday told me that I would have to teach him how to walk and read at the same time. I told him it was a gift and that I wouldn’t know what to teach. But I could actually give a few lessons, and lesson no. 1 is to read a book you can carry. I took as many Kindle books as a I could to Italy, so I have a lot of large paper books left for the year. Yesterday I looked ahead in my schedule and noticed some potential problems, times where I would be reading two large, heavy books simultaneously. But I’m about three weeks ahead on column 1 (you can see the columns on the 2012 Calendar tab) and two weeks ahead on cloumn 2, so I’m going to move some things around a bit. And I’m sure I’ll find a couple more off-Plan paperbacks to carry around some days.

But there’s still one more problem. Today I start both Alvin Plantinga’s God and Other Minds, which I’m sure will provide a hefty intellectual challenge, and my yearly assignment of Calvin, which always offers at least an emotional challenge. Books can be heavy in more ways than one!

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