Stoner by John Williams

Despite the name, this is not about marijuana! It is a biography of a pretty ordinary man who lives his life. He moves through his life but also wonders about the big questions like what makes life worth living? How to judge if you’ve had a ‘good life’? As I find myself approaching the middle of my life, I have become a lot more contemplative on my life. I sometimes think about the decisions I made in the past. Were they the right ones? Have I lived a good life? I also look to the future and try to navigate the difficult decisions of life: jobs, career, and family.

I think this type of book might not appeal to someone younger. Once you exit your twenties and maybe have a job, a mortgage, kids, and a spouse, this book might be more interesting to you as you start looking more seriously at your future.

“Having come to his studies late, he felt the urgency of study. Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know”

I feel this emotion so much. I read about 100 books a year but I still feel it isn’t enough. I feel time slipping through my fingers and there isn’t a goddamn thing I can do about it. I think this is why I am so critical of TV shows and movies. If a movie can’t even get 80% on RottenTomatoes, it probably isn’t worth my time. I also judge books harshly, too. There simply isn’t enough time in life to read and watch garbage. Use your time wisely children. Life seems like it is so long but soon you’ll find yourself in middle age and wondering where the years have gone.

“He had come to that moment in his age when there occured to him, with increasing intensity, a question of such overwhelming simplicity that he had no means to face it. He found himself wondering if his life were worth the living; if it had ever been.”

Though he thinks about these big questions, the character never turns to religion as many do. I don’t even think religion is mentioned at all in this book.

“He knew that never, after these few years, would teaching be quite the same; and he commited himself to a happy state of exhaustion which he hoped might never end. He seldom though of the past or the future, or of the disapointments and joys of either; he concentrated all the energies which he was capable upon the moment of his work and hoped that he was at last defined by what he did.”

Sadly, I feel like this right now. I’m at an awesome school with an amazing group of teachers and students. I don’t know how long it will last but I’ll stay here until it stops being awesome. I will feel so sad later if this turns out to be the most enjoyable teaching experience of my life. I hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

Rating: ★★★★★

Book #52 in my 2022 Reading Challenge

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