One December day, when my son had just turned 11, we stopped by the bookstore on our way home from running a slew of Christmas errands. We were tired. It was our last stop. I was looking for gifts. He was not. “Where’s the military history stuff?” he asked the clerk.
I forget the exact name of the book he chose, but it was some brick-heavy, Encyclopedic volume about the military structures of all the world powers. I remember the clerk handing it to him — the weight of it filled his fingers — and he looked at her like, Yep, thank you, that’s exactly what I was talking about. I’m sure it was also expensive, but I specifically remember not caring. I would have paid $30 or $60, it didn’t matter, that’s how longingly he looked at it.
That 11 year old is 24 now, and I know I’m biased, but he’s grown up to be one of the most interesting people I talk to. So curious about the world, so comfortable with his politics and opinions. I wish I was that cozy in my skin. Last weekend we were talking about our favorite books and I asked if he had a Top 5 list. It was hard, he said, to name only 5, as he’d recommend everything Tony Horwitz has ever written. But here it is, the short list:
1. GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL by Jared Diamond
2. A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES by Howard Zinn
3. A VOYAGE LONG AND STRANGE: REDISCOVERING THE NEW WORLD by Tony Horwitz
4. EMPIRES OF TRUST by Thomas Madden
5. DIPLOMACY by Henry Kissinger
He’s been trying to get me to read these books for years, especially the first two. Admittedly, I’ve had GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL on my long list, but it always seems to fall to the bottom.
Looking over this list is a reminder of how easy it is for me to get stuck, that I need to get out of my box. Forgive me if this has become the theme of late, but I do feel stuck and so many things in the universe are popping up to clop me on the head. Maybe getting out also means reading in a genre and/or subject matter I know little about. Out of the mouths of babes, right? Even 24 year old ones…