Central Park

Central Park

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday reading

I have an impressive/useless skill regarding my books: Pick any book off my shelf, and I can tell you where I acquired it.

Shelf 1 of 2

That Roger Angell collection up top? Bookstore on S Craig Street in Pittsburgh. The Scripps family history? Salt Lake City. Those Nora Ephron essays? A Friends of the Library tent at the TB Reads festival in St. Pete last fall. And so on. 

I love old books for the same reason people collect coins and won't buy used mattresses: You can imagine their previous life. I've found pictures, postcards and even plane tickets in used books. Which brings me to the Sunday reading list. It's hard to have a weekly feature on a blog that's existed for three days, but let's try it out.

The book I'm reading now

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

I got this from the library down the street. Even though I don't own it and it's very new, it perfectly illustrates the love of old, hard-copy books.

S. is the story of two people who exchange notes in a university library book. There's an actual novel:

The two characters, Eric and Jen, interact in the margins.

Eric is trying to discover the mystery of the author's identity before his supposedly evil thesis advisor does. Jen decides to help. 

I'm not too far in - it takes a while to read each page, and a J.J. Abrams mystery takes serious brainpower - but I love the very tactile experience of this book.

A book about this place where I live

Laura by Vera Caspary

I found this in the free book box outside the used bookstore in downtown Wadsworth. It was published in the early 1940s, and this edition was printed in 1966. It's a classic murder mystery with a twist; a New York City cop is called upon to investigate a murder, but falls in love with the woman whose death he is trying to solve. The plot is actually surprising, and Caspary's sense of humor is both dry and feminine, something you don't find often in books written so long ago. Also, it was made into a movie that elderly people bring up to me whenever they learn my name.

Something short and thought-provoking

Grantland published this piece, Dr. V's Magical Putter, earlier this week. Its writer, Caleb Hannan, met with quite a bit of criticism for the story about a trans woman who claimed to be a physicist to sell "scientific" golf clubs.

You can read some of those opinions here, here and here, and I'm sure each one links to more. What it boils down to, in my estimation: It's OK for a reporter to dig deep to uncover a massive consumer fraud. It's not OK for a writer to treat a trans identity as fraudulent or part of a cover-up, which is how the story's structure made it appear.

Something short and fun 

Because we're already on Grantland and we've got a whole extra day to Netflix-binge tomorrow: An Oral History of Friday Night Lights.

Happy reading. Clear eyes, full hearts. 

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