This is what UPS delivered to our doorstep yesterday – plus one other book that somehow didn’t get into the picture. That’s eight books in a single day, and probably by the end of the week there will be at least four more, for a total of a dozen or more books. Add to that last week’s books and next week’s books and you can begin to understand why there’s a pile of books in our basement the size of Mount Rushmore. But fear not- we always make sure that the books we don’t want to keep or can’t keep get good homes. We sometimes haul boxes of books to Kathy’s school where the teachers and aides snatch them up in record time. At other times we’ll donate them to the AAUW or the public library for their book sales. Still, we hang on to way too many books- or should I say that I hold on to too many books. It’s almost as though I expect to be bedridden for eighteen months sometime soon and want more than enough reading material to see me through.
I grew up in a house with lots and lots of books- but it also makes me think of relatives of ours (who will remain nameless) who did not appear to own one single book until one Christmas when we gave the lady of the house the autobiography of Norma Zimmer. (She was one of the most popular singers on the Lawrence Welk Show.) That book was on display on a table in their living room as though it were the Hope Diamond – and one had the impression that it had never even been opened, let alone read. And you could go through that entire house top to bottom and you would not find one single book aside from the phone book. In our house, by contrast, there is literally not a single room that does not have at least one book in it- and we have a couple of rooms with hundreds of books in each . . . and that’s not even counting the basement. And although the sheer number of books drives my wife a bit batty at times, both she and I love books and can scarcely imagine life without them.
So what have I been reading lately? Over the weekend I read three books in preparation for interviews that were yesterday and today. . . “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” which explores the world of Chinese restaurants. . . “Proust was a Neuroscientist,” which talks about how Proust, Stravinsky, Stein, Whitman and others had an uncanny understanding of the human mind and how it works decades before the scientists came to the same understanding. . . and “Hope’s Boy,” which is Andrew Bridge’s moving memoir of growing up with a mentally ill mother and how is was eventually wrenched from her and placed in foster care. By tomorrow, I will have read a book about how scientists of years ago tried to study human sexuality . . . and by Thursday I will have read a hard-hitting examination of our current president, a book by Jacob Weisberg called “The Bush Tragedy.” Finally on Friday will be a slender yet wonderful book called “Thinking about Memoir” written by a writing teacher and best-selling author who wrote the book to help people get more comfortable with writing about their own lives – whether it be in a full- fledged memoir or in just setting down on paper certain stories from one’s own life. Those are the books I will have read for this week’s WGTD interviews. Well, maybe “read” is not quite the right word; in several cases it’s more accurate to call it “heavy skimming.” But at least two of these books I will have read from cover to cover – one of them because it’s so short and the other because it was so fascinating.
So what about the eight book which UPS delivered to me today? The biggest winner, for sure, is one called “The Candy Bombers,” which tells the story of the great Berlin air lift after World War II – an incredibly complicated operation which was executed with almost miraculous precision. I’m excited to read that, even though it’s the thickest book of the eight. Another winner is “Inside Steve’s Head,” which is a look at the imagination and vision of Apple CEO Steve Jobs from a journalist which has covered Apple for almost twenty years. Another fun read will be “Arnie & Jack,” which looks at one of the greatest rivalries in the history of golf, between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. (I don’t get to do enough sports books, so I’m excited about that.) I’m also excited about the book called “Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get It Back.” The title pretty much says it all. Also in the food category is “Food to Live By: THe Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook.” This book is SO not me, but that’s one reason why I sought it out and arranged to interview the author, Myra Goodwin. I plan on learning a lot. Second from the bottom is “the Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day” – but I will at least crack this one open because I do plan on interviewing the author. Bottom of the heap is “Secrets of the Hollywood Girls Club,” which is a novel – and I almost never read fiction nor use it on the morning show unless it involves a compelling topic – or if the author is really famous. So this one is an easy candidate for the Discard pile. But I’m happy to have the other seven and look forward to reading or skimming them between lessons, at bedtime, and even in the shower. And one thing is for sure- all this reading keeps me out of the taverns!