Tuesday, April 2, 2013

25 Books: For Whom the Bell Tolls

I believe in thinking big on your birthday. On my birthday I set a goal to get 25 book recommendations from 25 people who I respect and admire. I didn't ask for their favorite book, but for a book that changed their life.I did this because I wanted to understand my friends, former teachers, co-workers, and family a bit better. If their was one book that changed their life, maybe it could help me out too.

I'll admit, I am not great at reading classic literature. I have a difficult time adjusting to classic prose. I sped through Hemingway, but with all apologies to, Dave Sandager, I picked up what I could. 

For Whom the Bell Tolls was a difficult read to fully digest, but I really enjoyed Hemingway's lean style. Simple descriptions bring out the life of a piece. 

There are a few passages I really liked. This one was from the middle of the book:

"Dying was nothing and he had no picture of it nor fear of it in his mind. But living was a field of grain blowing on the wind on a side of a hill. Living was a hawk in the sky. Living was an earthen jar of water in the dust of the threshhing with the grain flailed out and the chaff blowing. Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a hall and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond." 

Life is simple moments. Grain blowing on the side of a hill is one of the most simple things I can imagine. I like picturing life like that. It's nothing fancy, it's just there. I think if we imagine life as a series of spectacular things, we really miss the point. Robert Jordan (the book's protagonist) was really living the bare bones of life in the Spanish hills.

"Tommorow can be a day of much valid action. Tomorrow can be a day of concrete acts. Tomorrow can be a day which is worth something."

One thing I really loved about my old job with the MCC was when we completed a project. We built stuff, cleaned up things, and took care of tasks. I don't always have that satisfaction in my digital-centered world. I miss the smell of chainsaw oil and woodchips. 

I think life is really simple, it just takes us our whole life to figure that out.

 Hopefully, I will be able to pick this book up again and dig into the real meaty themes