Lately, I have been revisiting my past in books. There are a few books that defined a period of maturation in my life. Discovering the world through the mindset of others that seem very different from me, in culture, race and era has been a fascinating adventure in itself. It has helped shape my love of humankind and my disdain for violence. I remember the first two serious books that I read at my father's suggestion. One was The Source by Mitchner, and the other was Trinity by Uris.
Let me step back a pace or two.
As a child, I did not like to read. I did as little of it as I could get away with, preferring the mountains and trees to escape, and that tropical breeze that, without fail, refreshed my soul and mind. It was not until I was in my very early twenties did I discover a passion for reading, and it was these two books that took me into the blissful abyss.
After those, I joined a mail-order book club (because online had not yet happened) and ordered books like crazy. I did not read them all, but did stumble across a few very unforgettable ones. One of these is a book entitled Bittersweet by Leslie Li. I have never forgotten this book and praise it to many who like reading.
Recently, One such fellow found the book online and purchased a copy to read. After reading it, he offered it to me to reread. Of course I took him up on that! Turns out, it was only my emotional response to the novel that I could recall beyond a couple of major themes, but that kind of memory is the strongest and was enough to give me the desire to read it again.
What a treat it has been! Now I can remember with clarity the attraction it held for me.
Let me paraphrase a statement by the husband of the main character:
Dream of the day when all colonialism ceases, all political boundaries are erased, and all nationalities live as a single people. For it is all these that provide the rationale for war and the greatest suffering of humankind.
Bittersweet by Leslie Li, pg 347
Yes, it keeps my fire lit to read of people so very different than myself, raised in different times and environs, yet who come to similar conclusions as I in the end. Such things remind me that I am not alone in my desire for peace, even if it often feels like it.