‘A River Runs Through It’: a story for the beginning of spring.

It is now spring in the United States, a time and a place that easily find their way to our hearts. Winter slips away slowly and takes with it the worries and stressors that appear during the many cold days spent inside. For students like me, the monotony of class, exams, study sessions, cram sessions, and restless procrastination seems to finally be nearing its expiration. It’s as if the whole natural world around us is taking a deep sigh of relief, and we all feel inclined to join it.

To help you maximize your post-winter revival, I have a book recommendation that will be worth your time: A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. It is a touching, beautiful novel that will make you eager for the next few months. It is also only 104 pages long, so it won’t take you all spring to read it.

The novel begins with this sentence: “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing”. If this seems off-putting, I assure you that you do not need to have a connection to either of these subjects to appreciate the message delivered by the book. Fly fishing and Christianity serve as the tools Maclean uses to uncover truths about nature, spirituality, family, love, and loss. The book inspires compassion and brotherhood, and compels the reader to reflect on the connections we make and preserve throughout our lives.

My favorite aspect of the story is Maclean’s complete mastery of fly fishing. His intimate knowledge and love of the activity is inspiring. Maclean makes fly fishing interesting, and also reveals the value of passion and skillful practice. If spring is a time of rebirth, it can also be a time of self-improvement. Perhaps the book won’t inspire you to pick up a fishing rod, but it might compel you to pick up a guitar you haven’t practiced in a while, or add some more well-crafted pages to a short story you’ve been putting off.

If nothing else, this book will push you outside to observe the wonderful molecules Maclean finds swirling through the warm air, above rivers and around our heads.

“When I was young, a teacher had forbidden me to say “more perfect” because she said if a thing is perfect it can’t be more so. But by now I had seen enough of life to have regained my confidence in it.” -Norman Maclean

I hope that this book can make your spring more perfect.

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