The ratio of books bought to books read this fall is somewhere above 4:1.
Donna Tartt, The Little Friend (2002) – The reviews of The Goldfinch reminded me that I had never considered this novel, Donna Tartt’s second book after The Secret History, which I read and enjoyed in July 2011. I’ve had a sense that no one liked this book when it came out and no one’s bothered to read it since but I’m sure that’s not true. From Value Village in perfect condition.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (2006) – I’ve seen this is shops for years and thought: oh, an Iraq book. I guess everyone’s got an Iraq book to write now. But now I’m reading about Iraq, and I remembered this book, and I couldn’t find it until it was there at Value Village. I would have waited to find a copy that did not have Matt Damon on the cover but that’s fine. It took a decade and now I have to stop myself from asking: hey, did you know about Iraq?
Edward Humes, Garbology: Inside our Love Affair with Trash (2012) – Another book about garbage; this is my third or fourth, all on the same line of Hey, can you believe? Did you know? Garbage! Yeah, I know! Garbage! I’ve been reading about garbage since I first saw photos of huge landfills in late 1980s National Geographics.
Rich Cohen, Sweet and Low: A Family Story (2009) – I don’t know anything about this but it sure looked compelling on the shelf at Value Village. One of the best places to find cheap, good condition used books in town. About the inventor of Sweet and Low sweetener and sugar packets and corruption and the author is the grandson of the inventor. “To be disinherited is to be set free.”
Paul Theroux, Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents (1998) – I pile up these books by VS Naipaul and Paul Theroux and here is a book that Paul Theroux wrote all about what a jerk VS Naipaul can be.
Sandra Mackey, Lebanon: A House Divided (1989) – I just read the same author’s book about Iraq and this might fill in the gaps to the west.
Mike Doughty, The Book of Drugs (2010) – A nasty memoir from the lead guy from Soul Coughing. Does anyone listen to Soul Coughing anymore? I had all these records at the end of the ‘90s. He does lots of dumb drugs and hates his dumb bandmates and they hate him too and I’m going to read about it for 200+ pages.
ed. Michael Lewis, Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity (2009) – More writing on the financial crisis; collected essays and reporting from 1987 to 2009. “What people thought was happening at the time and, with the luxury of hindsight, what actually happened.”
Michael Lewis, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (2011) – Even more writing on the financial crisis around the world
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973) – For a further rounded picture of Nixon and the Nixon era. 1972 is so boring in retrospect: Nixon wins every state but Massachusetts. But there was a whole thick and messy campaign in there.
David Foster, Hitman: Forty Years Making Music, Topping Charts, and Winning Grammies (2008) – I don’t like David Foster or anything I can think of that he’s produced. I don’t enjoy what he does. But I heard a really wonderful self-aware interview with him when this book came out and have wondered about it since, on the off chance that he deals with his reputation and the question of taste in an upfront, aware manner. And if not, and he just tells the story of finding Celine Dion, then it was just $4 at Value Village and maybe he’ll have an interesting anecdote or two for me to relate when some terrible song comes on the radio.
Jack Munro and Jane O’Hara, Union Jack (1988) – This was on the shelf at Value Village the week after he died. Another one for the BC shelf.
Deadlock: The Inside Story of America’s Closest Election (2001) – collected from the immediate reporting by the Washington Post. Crazy moments in recent history.
Charlotte Gill, Ladykiller (2005) – short stories.
Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992) – Does this go in my cultural theory pile or my computer pile, or even my old-crank pile next to the James Howard Kunstler book that I also haven’t read?
Michael Redhill, Consolation (2006) – a big, maybe obnoxious novel that I’ve considered for years and can now consider in my own home as I continue to not read it for years and years.
Colin Thubron, Shadow of the Silk Road (2006) – traveling the Silk Road, from China across to the Mediterranean.
Charles Moore, Plastic Ocean (2011) – all about plastic in the ocean.
Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties (2004)
Karen Connelly, Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal (1992) – written 14 years before Burmese Lessons, which I really enjoyed reading in 2011.
James Wallace, Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace (1997) – I considered taking home a book by Bill Gates on the same subject from 1999 that was next to this at Value Village but no – Bill’s book is about what he thinks is going to happen but all I want to know is what actually has happened to date, which is what this book might tell me.
Lawrence Grey, How to Win a Local Election (1994) – Helpful information! Including chapter 9: ‘Computers – and using them in the campaign”
Shelagh D. Grant Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America (2010) – from the Munro’s cheap shelf.
Mo Willems, You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons: The World on One Cartoon a Day (2006) – This was left on the bookshelf next to my apartment’s laundry room and I bought it up for Robin because she likes the author’s kids books. While this was written and published in 2006, it was drawn on a round-the-world trip in 1990.
Geoff Pevere and Greig Dymond, Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey (1996) – On the cover, photos of Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky, k.d. lang, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and Mitsou. I looked at this on shop shelves through the years of my nationalist phase, roughly 1998-2003. Somehow it seemed like too much – all of everything I ever wanted in one little book. So I finally bought it from a thrift shop (maybe the WIN on Pandora?), at a point when it might tell me more about the canon of 1996 than about Canada.