While at the library waiting for Julie, I walked over to the history section and a book caught my attention -- bright red binding with over-sized white uppercased lettering. I flipped through a few pages and tucked it under my arm without a second thought. I finished reading it last night -- "Sixty Days in Combat: An Infantryman's Memoir of World War II in Europe" by Dean Joy.
I'm not disappointed in myself but a little concerned. It will be so easy to be weak again.
After I finished grad school and had free time and energy to read, I set a goal of reading one book every two weeks. I began with the plays of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. I read "A Doll's House" and others and it was wonderful to read once again just for pleasure rather than out of academic necessity. I read for the joy of reading authors who could turn words into living images. I remember the vivid panorama created by a forgotten author in a book whose title I've forgotten about his experiences as a lookout in a fire tower in California many years earlier. As he described a storm I could feel the wind, see the straining trees, hear the thunder and taste the blowing rain. Fantastic! Even today I want to be a lookout for just one summer. I've checked into it and would leap on the opportunity.
I took a job at a college in Kentucky. One day as I walked through the library stacks on my way toward the religion section I saw a book with large silver letters on a black spine -- "IWO". That book by Richard Wheeler started what has become almost an addiction.
My father was in WWII as were two of his brothers. For the rest of their lives one brother wore a brace to support an ankle crushed in a plane crash and the other limped on an elevated shoe after being shot four times in the hip in Belgium. As a child I sat and listened to them talk politics, religion, sports and other topics but never about the war. Curiosity caused me to want to know so I began reading.
Over the years I read from various perspectives -- American, British, Russian, German and Japanese. I read cheap personal accounts and heavy academic volumes. As the years passed it was exciting to learn more and get a better perspective of that insane period. One of the most memorable was written by a woman who, as a young German girl, lost her father and both brothers in the war. I saw a strange world through the experiences of a twelve year old girl -- "To Lose a War: Memories of a German Girl" by Regina Maria Shelton.
It became almost an addiction that I decided to curb. About a year ago I chose to read other subjects. As I age I want to expand rather than contract. However, there is something comforting in returning to a subject to which I've given so many hours.
I'm determined to read more widely but . . . but occasionally, I think I'll slip back into my comfort zone.
Just in case you're curious -- yes, I'm watching "The War" on PBS this week.