One of the bloggers that I read regularly, Punkinsmom at Idle Musings, does something I really enjoy. She reports briefly on one of the books that she has read that week. She goes to the public library every week, checks out a pile of books and reads through them, then chooses one that she thinks is worth commenting upon. A nice idea that might catch on with others.
My big basket of books comes from friends and bookstores rather than the library, and I don't read quite as many books in a week as Punkinsmom does. I don't think I could come up with a review each Friday, but I like the idea of semi-regular reporting on reading.
Right now (for last week) I've been reading my way bit by bit, once again, through Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love originally published in 1973. My love affair with science fiction began with Robert Heinlein's Red Planet a children's book that my mother read out loud to us when I was about 8 or perhaps 9. Several of Heinlein's books for youth, Citizen of the Galaxy and Tunnel in the Sky became favorites in adolescence which I read repeatedly -- I have reread them in middle age and find that they still stand up quite well. I adored the short stories in Green Hills of Earth, and other collections, but I was never fond of Star Ship Troopers with their relentless focus on war with aliens.
Time Enough for Love, like Stranger in a Strange Land is an adult novel, not because of the focus on sex, but because the themes in Time Enough for Love are themes that one can appreciate far more in middle age than one can as a youth. In it Lazarus Long (a.k.a. Woodrow Wilson Smith) more than 2,000 years of age reflects upon his long life, and tells key stories on the themes of love and survival as a pioneer, as he tries to decide whether to undergo rejuvenation for yet another thousand years.
Not as well crafted as some of his other books (especially compared to Stranger in a Strange Land), Time Enough for Love is Heinlein's expression of his own thoughts and philosophy on life and love. Many places in the book he reacts to the feminism of his day (1973). The following quote sums up his views: "Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do make them superior to men, and their proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, 'equality' is a disaster." When I first read that in 1973, I thought "what an old chauvinist pig." Thirty five years later, I'm not so sure he didn't have it right, because today as then our greatest poverty problem is still single mothers and their children.
Reading the book now, I realize that the first time through, I skipped over a lot of the "boring" details. Now I see the genius in those details. If humans ever do venture out among the stars and become pioneers again on frontier worlds, the sections of this book where Heinlein, though Lazarus Long, describes in depth exactly what equipment one should take and the issues one should consider (about pack animals, wagons, scouting, water, and many other things) for successful pioneering, ought to be required reading.