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Why the quotation marks? Because that could not have been a whole month. Not with only four books read. One of them less than 150 pages and the other a perennial re-read.

books bought: none

books read: Assholes: A Theory Of Donald Trump by Aaron James – The Don Camillo Omnibus by Giovanni Guareschi – Fates And Furies by Lauren Groff – Invisible Influence by Jonah Berger

collage

Whenever the days get long and I’ll fall asleep reading, Guareschi’s collection of short stories is my go-to. It’s a collection of charming, comedic caricatures of a small post-war village in Italy. How does that turn into five hundred pages of short stories? Imagine a burly, cigar-smoking, duck-hunting, passionate social worker who cares so much, he occasionally gets carried away with his fists…or war surplus TNT.

Except by social worker, I meant the parish priest, Don Camillo.

And his main opponent? A die-hard, well-meaning, war veteran and mechanic who’s involved in local politics for the Communist Party. Who has his own “collection” of war matériel.

Except by local politics, I meant the the village Mayor, Peppone.

Together these two – who happen to be best friends and served together in the war – keep their small village running. When they’re not running at each other with fists or worse. But, despite their differences, they ALWAYS band together against outsiders.

These stories remain incredibly popular in Europe. Probably for their understanding description of small town politics. Where doctrine and rules are…stretched…between friends, and backs are scratched to make sure that people are treated justly and fairly. Not some bureaucratic checkbox of fairness, but a fairness rooted in a humane conscience that defaults to kindness. Or, as Guareschi says himself:

“If there is a priest anywhere who feels offended by my treatment of Don Camillo, he is welcome to break the biggest candle available over my head. And if there is a Communist who feels offended by Peppone, he is welcome to break a hammer and sickle on my back. But if there is anyone who is offended by the conversations of Christ, I can’t help it; for the one who speaks in this story is not Christ, but my Christ – that is, the voice of my conscience.”

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