The latest over at Bensonian begins with a quote from Francis Bacon:
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
I confess that I haven’t yet read the rest of the post because I was so struck by this quote. My first reaction was to stop and go back to a book that I have recently begun and intend to read “wholly, and with diligence and attention.” That book is Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. But then my mind quickly turned to a question: What books have I chewed and digested? A great many, but only in part. What books have I read in there entirety with diligence and attention? Very few. And the type of books and the author that first came to mind surprised me. I am usually engrossed in works of theology and social commentary. When I read fiction it is usually someone like Tolkien. I first thought of none of these. No, my first thoughts went to Ernest Hemingway, a man with whom I do not share much regarding our world views. Often times when I read Hemingway I think he has just missed the mark, that he took the right fork when he could have gone left. There are two books I have read by Hemingway in their entirety: The Old Man And The Sea and For Whom The Bells Toll. I highly recommend both of them.