My Ishmael Story
In late July or early August 2023, I read Daniel Quinn’s 1992 novel, Ishmael, for the first time. I strongly encourage everyone to read this book. It is profoundly thought-provoking, and if my own thoughts hadn’t already been heading in this direction, I’m pretty sure I would say it changed my life. I agree completely with what Tom Murphy wrote about the book:
I think I was particularly struck by the resonance with many of the conclusions I had reached on my own, as was sketched in the last post. But the novel framed these realizations in an elegant way that I never could have done, added a healthy dose of ideas I had not considered, and on the whole brought me to a state of newfound clarity.
Anyway, I happened to read an online copy of the book donated to the Internet Archive by Claremont School of Theology Library. Shortly after I finished the book, a ruling in the disastrous Hachette Book Group, Inc. v. Internet Archive case forced the Internet Archive to remove the title from circulation, meaning it was no longer available to read online.
Not long after that, I was talking to a neighbor, and we got on the subject of books we were reading. I recommended Ishmael to her, and explained that I’d give her a copy if I had one, but that I had read it online. We chatted a bit more and then said goodbye. Our conversation reminded me that I had a few paperbacks that I wanted to deposit in our neighborhood Little Free Library. I gathered them up and walked them across the street. As I opened the door, a book that was resting against it fell forward, almost out of the box and into my face.
Do you want to guess which book that was?
In an amazing and uncanny coincidence, there, right in front of my very eyes was a copy of Ishmael not even 30 minutes after I’d recommended it! I picked up the book, dropped off the others that I was depositing, walked it straight down to my neighbor’s house, and left it in her front door.
Some books clearly demand to be read…
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