Monday, April 10, 2006

So, what are you reading?

If you've looked at my profile, you know that I enjoy reading. I like history, thrillers, science fiction, current events, biographies, and generally anything that catches my eye. I'm usually reading at least three books at any one time: one for the nightstand/bathroom; one for commuting; and one for the table. Luckily, Agnes enjoys reading as much as I do, and our mealtimes tend to be pretty quiet affairs as we each enjoy our books. We probably have the only home in which bookweights are part of the table setting.

Right now, I'm reading "Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945," by Catherine Merridale. It's a very interesting, and heartbreaking, look at the life of the Soviet common soldier in the Second World War. There are literally hundreds of books by and about American, British, and German soldiers' experiences, but very few (especially in English) about the many nationalities that made up the Red Army. Regardless of how you feel about war, you have to admire and pity the common Soviet soldier who faced a savage enemy in front and a brutal military/political structure behind that was perfectly ready to shoot him if he tried to retreat, and equally ready to punish him for the least comment that smacked of defeatism (soldiers were free to talk about victories, for instance, but could be arrested and imprisoned or shot for any mention of casualties, retreats, incompetence of their officers, or a host of other topics). Regardless of the sufferings of the common soldiers in the West, their experience of the war was relative bliss compared to that of their Soviet counterparts.

Reading, about anything, is a marvelous pastime. If the electricity goes out and you can't watch TV or play DVDs, all you need is the light of a candle to enjoy a good book. And as my mother used to say, as long as you have a book in your hand, you have a window into all the wonderful worlds your imagination can take you. If you have a book, you always have a friend.

So visit the library, pick something out, and enjoy it. The favorite books I've listed in my profile are good recommendations, but someone has written something about almost anything you could be interested in. Find it, read it, and let your mind grow.

More comments on reading and on individual books in the future. For now, I've got to get poor Ivan through the end of the war. Have a good day. Read something.


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