Have you ever read a couple of books in a row that really set your mind on fire? I know some of you out there might be saying that about my novels, and the check is in the mail for that, but there have been times in my life when a well-timed tome has altered the course of my thinking.
My father sent me Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead when I was living in an Air Force barracks in Michigan, along with a note that read “I think you’re ready for this now.” Busted my brain box all to pieces. Right book at the right time. The same might be said of Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, and even The Book of Mormon and The Articles of Faith published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When the reader is ready, the right words will present themselves.
To be clear, I am neither Mormon nor Libertarian, but the words that help format our cranial hard drives in our younger years tend to stay with us, like luggage. To shake things up, we need words that flesh out our thinking and challenge us to refine our perspectives and truths. Too many of us hold our truths too tightly, and that can be dangerous.
Two recent books evoked a good bit of thought in me. First, Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern explored the extraordinary impact of one rediscovered poem on humanity as we know it. Second, Ron Chernow’s Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. I’d not read much prior to that about America’s Gilded Age, even as we seem to be teetering on a repeat, but the rise of Rockefeller from very humble beginnings to Robber Baron is a compelling story. I commend both to you without reservation.
But if you want something a little more fiery, you might like the feature I just wrote for Covey Rise Magazine. I was fortunate to work with my talented bride on this project. In it you’ll find fire, forestry, and fuel for moving the human ball forward. If you like it, share it with others. If you don’t find it absolutely intoxicating, be patient. We have a piece on bourbon in the next issue.
In the meantime, thanks for reading. And thinking.