Monday, November 18, 2013

Jeff's Books to open your mind: Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert Heinlein’s 1961 novel was ground breaking, pioneering in science fiction, and filled with social and psychological concepts about religion, politics and all levels of human interaction.

And I honestly don’t care if anyone reads it or not.

I read the novel recently when I brought my father’s pile of books from my mother’s house.  There were nonfiction science tomes, some Lovecraft which I’d read in the distant past and a couple tributes to the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The majority of the books were a mix of old Science Fiction, including a large pile of Heinlein.

I knew Dad had read them, and he would bring them up once in a while when we watched some Sci Fi movie or show that had similarities to them, probably because Heinlein inspired their creators.

The only one I had read previously was Starship Troopers.  When I was telling Dad about the movie, he mentioned having the book and asking if I wanted to borrow it.  It is a rare example of a film based on a novel where the central themes and many of the important elements are completely different, yet I found great enjoyment in both. 

I had always meant to read more of them but never got around to it.  It’s not like Dad and I didn’t talk about books or read the same ones, we did often. Many of the gift books we’d give each other for presents ended up being unwrapped to the tune of, “… and can I borrow that when you finish?”

As I said, he mentioned them but it wasn’t like Mom’s Italian from the Bronx patented methods of subtlety:  “Here, read this, you’ll like it.”

As I finally read Stranger in a Strange Land I realized that it was definitely worthy of its reputation as a Science Fiction (and for that matter, any kind of fiction) classic.

I also realized there were many opinions and theories introduced that matched the way my Dad viewed the world.

No I will not be a total geek here and say it helped me “Grok” my father...
Although I did keep thinking it would be cool to say as I read it.  
(For varying definitions of cool, of course.)

What was far more interesting was the large number of social and psychological opinions and theories that appeared to be the complete opposite of the way Dad viewed the world.

I would have loved to find out what he really thought about the details of this novel, but I read it too late.

Therefore, I urge everyone who wants to read a book that will truly and greatly open your mind:
Read your parent’s books while you can still discuss the contents with them.

Happy Birthday Dad, we all miss you.


Chris said...

Classic book!! My dad was a big Heinlen fan too. Thanks for sharing. It is worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Great job once again ole cousin of mine. Moving! My dad read Readers Digest and the newspaper. Mom reads nothing but Harlequin Romance Novels. If I take your advice and read my Dad's books I'm afraid I'll turn into a daily potpourri version of a dreadful human being! Anyway, your Dad and I are joined at the hip when it comes to Ice Cream! READ ON!
Cousin Michael

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx for sharing too, Chris.

Michael. Maybe I should have said "share things with your parents" instead of just read. Ice Cream works as well as books...or TV (Man I wish Dad could have seen the new Star Trek...) Thanx for joining in.

Antonia said...

Lovely and thoughtful post Jeff! Thank you for sharing that

Jeff McGinley said...

You're welcome. Thanx for reading, as always.

Unknown said...

I miss my Dad too..but less and less...interesting that as I miss him less I understand more and more what he was doing to prepare me for being on my own..he encouraged me to take calculated risks and stay cool when life got crazy....his only verbal advice was "question everything", "grow your own food"and Persist.Persist.persist." funny how that applies to everything! LOL. He is still just as present in my memory as he was in his biological life...and strangely more effective!

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx for sharing. The good Dad's never really leave, because they leave such a strong mark.

Gary said...

Your advice about reading your parents books is right on the money.
My Dad is in poor health now and the other day he said something that resonated with me and I will pass it on to everyone.

"Keep on having fun. It is later than you think"

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx for sharing, Gary. Dad wisdom is universal.