Susan Jacoby's "Freethinkers: The History of American Secularism" is simply riveting. I finally started it on Saturday evening--after finishing "Soon I Will Be Invincible", about which I can only say bellisima!--and I'm three quarters done, sadly.
But I'll walk away from it with a thrilling new reading list that includes anything on or by:
Whitman (esp, Leaves of Grass, unexpurgated)
That massive, awesome-looking John Adams biography I was too cheap to buy last month
Susan B Anthony
There's just so much about my world--my own country that I didn't even suspect. I'm so humbled by this fact, and as I learn a bit more, every day finds me rather ashamed at having ever called this world I find myself in and the only one I'll ever have boring. Whether I use human or natural history as focal point, there's more than enough in my world to keep me engaged with but a little effort on my own part. Hell, the hardest bit so far, was actually learning how to read, but those efforts are twenty-three years behind me.
(Though anyone'd be right to observe that learning to read, and learning to read critically are two different beasts, and some people die without learning to do the latter. I, hopefully, am taking steps to not be one of them.)
So lately, instead of feeling stupid at the feet of the vast Everest of Things I Don't Know, I've begun thinking, instead, that with such a mountain to climb--which I will likely die before getting higher than the foothills of--the only way my life can be boring, or without happiness, is if I completely disregard the simple, renewable joy of learning and penetrating life's mysteries.
I don't think I've ever in my life been this hungry to know.
"If wishes was horses, we'd all be eatin' steak."--Jayne Cobb