No news is good news. It's taken me half a lifetime to understand that maxim, but I am now inclined to agree.

The news right now is horrible. There's so much of it. Every new story is worse than the last. We are on the brink of something and we don't know quite what.

When I was a child, I loved historical fiction and I always wondered why the time I was growing up in was so dull. Well, then I got to live through 9/11. And, to be clear, it had probably been terrible all along, but Iran Contra doesn't mean much to a schoolkid. Suddenly (or so it seemed), the global condition was war, war, more war. Again, that is just the state of the world. Always has been. Humanity is not naturally peaceful. It does, however, cure you of any longing to live in an "interesting time."

You could be tempted to give up all together. You could stop watching the news. You could stop reading books. You (provided you are in the West) could live in our Phoney War and hope it lasts forever.

I have spent my adulthood reading and now selling rare books. A great many of them are about the World Wars. You can learn a lot of lessons if you read enough--about isolationism, about bravery, about war crimes, about nation-building. It's all there, in one way or another.

What I have learned is that time marches forward. We live in this time and, later, if we are lucky enough, we will live in another time. Things will change. We will soon know what comes next, but, by then, we will of course be busy trying to figure out what comes after that.

I read because it lets me contextualize the world around me. I read because it is a blessed escape from the tumult. I read because it lets me see the best of humanity and how we can all strive to be better.

We are given this wonderful gift--the ability to read and imagine. I'm going to keep reading and I'm going to keep selling books, because I truly do believe that history matters. Even (or perhaps especially) when you're living through it.

October 22, 2023 — Opal Rare Books
Tags: blogging

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