Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer Reading

So my love affair with books continues... No surprise there, right? It's quickly becoming apparent to me that the Boston Public Library needs to hurry up and get my name to the top of the waiting list for the 10 or so books I've requested in the past couple of months... Buying new books is getting expensive!

Anyway, I just finished Columbine, by David Cullen. And all I can say is it was one of my favorite books (thus far) of 2009. I highly recommend it. The survivor depictions of what occurred were both disturbing and insightful, and moving to say the least.

Next up, this morning on the subway while heading in to work I started The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street, by Justin Fox. I saw him as a guest on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and couldn't resist picking this one up. Probably not every one's cup of tea, but I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it.

Then, NPR had a special On Point with Tom Ashbrook this week, in which a guest spoke about a book he's written that details the impact of methamphetamine on his small Iowa hometown. I don't know why I find both meth and heroin such fascinating drugs - maybe because they're each so scarily addictive. In any event, whenever I come across a book or a documentary concerned with either substance, I just have to go with it.

Thus, I found myself going to my favorite independent bookstore today, specifically to ask for the new work by journalist Nick Reding called Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town. If you're interested, and have the time, I highly recommend following this link and listening to the 45 minute story that was presented on NPR. Nick Reding reads a portion of the book, and it sounds frighteningly good.

Methland was unfortunately sold out, so I placed a special order for it. And while I was there, I started browsing the aisles and I came across two other books I ended up buying.

The first is called Black Postcards: A Rock and Roll Romance, by Dean Wareham. Wareham was the lead singer of and guitarist in one of my favorite bands of all time, Luna. Luna unfortunately disbanded a few years ago, but not before releasing some really great albums throughout the 1990s and 2000s. (Before Luna, he fronted Galaxie 500 - they were also a really great band...) This book, I believe, is a memoir of his years in those bands. I remember reading a review of it in either Rolling Stone, or maybe the NY Times, when it came out. I happened to come across it today, marked down to $5.99 no less, so I just had to pick it up.

I also stumbled across what I hope will be a little gem: Pieces for the Left Hand, by J. Robert Lennon.

Given all of this, I can only say that while I love grad school, I can't wait for the day that I can start voraciously reading again. For a while there I was reading at least a book per week. I just love it sooooo much - soaking up stories and knowledge like a sponge.

On a regular basis I just stop Gary in his tracks and say to him, "Listen to this..." and then I read him a passage from whatever it is that's caught my attention. I can't help myself - I'm sure it might be annoying to him sometimes, although I hope not. I just find such great pleasure in reading, and sharing, even one paragraph that's been written extremely well.

Which brings me right to this passage about dieting:

"For lunch on most days I had tuna salad. Mom tried to make it seem more special and eventful by presenting it in geometrically interesting and colorful ways. She used the largest dinner plate she could find. She covered the plate with several overlapping leaves of iceberg lettuce. She molded the tuna salad — always Bumble Bee solid white tuna, never chunk light, never Chicken of the Sea — into three large scoops, which she put over the lettuce, within a ring of cherry
tomatoes. Three scoops looked prettier than one or two. Besides, there wasn’t any doubt I would be able to finish that many.

“Aren’t you going to have some?” I would ask.

“Maybe later,” she’d say, and then I’d hear the crunch-whoosh of the metal peel coming off another bright pink can of Tab, the worst diet cola ever made, the diet cola Mom never betrayed, her diet cola, its distance from sweetness and its metallic taste a way of patting herself on the back. When it came to beverages, was anyone more virtuous and penitential than she? Tab was her rosary, and she said it as many as eight times a day."

How fucking amazing is that passage? Every word is just perfect! It's an excerpt from the soon-to-be-released memoir of NY Times food critic Frank Bruni, called "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater." The Times Magazine has an 8-page excerpt available here, and I cannot recommend it enough. When this book comes out, it's going right to the top of my to-be-read pile.

Anyway, I think the perfect ending to this post is to show the sticker that I bought and applied to my new laptop this week. As Gary says, "It's just so John..."

I think so too :)


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