Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Monday, January 16, 2012

Trustee from the Toolroom Review

When I was doing a brief scan of Facebook, I saw this note from Yaron Brook:

I almost never recommend books on this page. I am not a literary expert and don't like making recommendations about things I am not expert in. However, I just finished a book that is so anti-modern, that is - it is so benevolent, pro-mind, pro-business, pro-life, with not a hint of cynicism -- that I have to recommend it to you. If you want to experience the world as it should be (and to some extent once was) then read this novel:

I was intrigued and reserved the audio version from the library.  After finishing, I recommended it to my dad (an avid reader) and an engineering friend and then... I just kept thinking about all the endearing aspects of this novel and all the different ways it enchanted me.

I love the way the main character treats children with respect and kindness.  He is so tentative and yet he approaches his niece with the honesty, warmth, and a genuine view of her as worthy of being engaged rationally.  There's a moment early on when he shares some frightening news in what I find an absolutely perfect parenting moment.  I was all grins and just so impressed with finding this moment in literature.

I love that the main character is an independent thinker without coming across as a conspicuous hero.  He evaluates his brother's actions for himself and decides what he thinks.  He acknowledges feelings like fear and thinks for himself about what his next best action should be.  He shows attention to detail, doing things right,  because he has evaluated the results of both choices.  Finally, he chooses his career in a manner that disregards consideration of norms- he focuses on what will make him most happy and achieves that feat.

I love that this book shows a man doing something totally out of his norm, but totally consistent with his character, and... succeeding.   The main character is not the only one that does this; the simple captain also achieves this kind of success.  Dr. Brook is correct that this book presents a gloriously benevolent story.  I think the lesson is there for everyone that such successes are possible to virtuous people pursuing rational values.  Again, this book does not present virtuous people as super heroes, but regular people thinking independently and making their own choices.

So, I recommend this book to everyone.  I'd never heard of the author (Nevil Shute) before, but I just finished listened to another one of his novels (A Town Like Alice) which was also delightful (but not as much so as Trustee from the Toolroom).  Here's to literature that nurtures us to introspect, learn, and grow.

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