Tag Archives: selection

What’s Next?

Over the holidays, reading Byron in Love confirmed that I shouldn’t pick my own books.  It was highly recommended in a review I can’t find now.  All the ones Google pulls up confirm my assessment that it’s deeply unbalanced, providing way too little of Byron’s literary merits or even the non-sexual components of his relationships to flesh out the catalog of sexual perversity.

Santa, on the other hand, enabled me in my favorite rut, stuffing Edvard Radzinsky’s The Rasputin File in my stocking.  Odd reading on a Belizean beach, but deeply satisfying and it provides an intriguing reinterpretation of Rasputin’s murder.  The only thing I would have added would be more photos and reproductions of contemporary photos and news stories, since the contemporary publicity of Rasputin’s exploits was a significant factor in undermining the Russian people’s faith in their rulers and helped open them to the idea of Communist revolution.

Yesterday, I finished The Collector on the way to work, but everyone on the N Train was on a Blackberry or PSP, so it wasn’t until the ride home I was able to find a new book.  The first person I sat next to was a woman about my age with a huge book spread open on her knees.  I sighed a bit, since the long ones slow down my posting schedule, but a glance at the top of the page showed it to be Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth!  Saved, I turned to The New Yorker (highly recommend last week’s review of a book arguing van Gogh didn’t cut off his own ear) and forgot to look for a new book until I’d switched to the R in Brooklyn, where a scruffy guy had a bright yellow book in hand.  It turned out to be The Watchmen graphic novel, with the bleeding smiley cover obviating the need to see the title.  The Writer happens to own the original printing of the comics in book form (as well as the original comics, but I wouldn’t dream of touching those), so for once, no need to wait on the NYPL.



The funny thing about the Subway Book Club idea is it makes you look wistfully at people reading interesting books.  Sure, Outliers is probably great, and I could use a spin through whatever that studious girl across the way is reading.  But what I really want is the Zombie Survival Guide.  The reader caught me checking it out and gave me a smile.  Not that I couldn’t just pick it up on my own, but how fun would it be to review alongside the House of Mirth?

Book Selection Update

I whipped through Blink in just two days (it was good, and also fairly short) and am on to Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years.  I’ve been enjoying all the non-fiction lately, but this is also a Kennedy conspiracy theory book, so there’s a bit more drama than the average history.

The woman next to me on the R Train the other day was reading Infinite Jest, my favorite novel, but I have to say, not a great commuting book.  At about 1200 pages in paperback, it’s pretty rough on the shoulder to haul it around.

Selection Day

Today was a Selection Day.  I finished my last book on the morning commute (getting stuck in a tunnel for an extra 10-15 minutes “helped”), so when I got on the evening, I had an eye out for a new Book Club book.

I get on the N Train in midtown, around 6:45.  Books being read on the platform count too, but I didn’t see any.  I get a seat at the end of the car (all the people packing the morning commute must leave work at a different time than me) and looked around.  Next to me, a guy playing his PSP and loudly chewing gum, but no one reading in the half of the car closest to me.  I wonder whether I should have stayed to the middle of the car, but it turns out I’m not willing to stand if I don’t have to.

Finally, at 14th Street, a woman gets on with a book and sits down directly across from me . . . but the book turns out to be in Russian.  I actually do speak and read Russian a bit, but I’ve decided to stick to English for the Book Club.  I get off at Atlantic/Pacific for my transfer – still no other books.  The platform has a number of book-reading folks, but when I try to sidle up to a middle-aged guy in shorts to check out what he’s reading, he covers the title with a receipt.  All I can see is “NEW! More”, not really enough.  I was lucky, in a way, that he read my interest as he did; one of these days someone is going to think my interest isn’t limited to the book, and that will be awkward.  The thought of it keeps me from approaching anyone else.

On the R, I manage to snag a seat next to a reading woman.  Hunched forward to avoid someone else’s enormous ponytail that is hanging on me, I try to read the top line of the page for the title, but strike out.  She acts a bit uncomfortable with my interest too, so maybe I was just being creepy today.  Anyway, I think it was The Secret, or some variant, so no great loss (stick around for when my reviews catch up to what I’ve actually read because A New Earth pushes a lot of the same buttons).

No new book today, but got to catch up a bit on my magazine reading.  In a bit of synchronicity, the Harper’s Magazine article on missionaries to children (“Like I was Jesus”) mentioned that the leader of the group does not choose the books he reads, but reads whatever he believes God has put in his path.  God for him, the subway for me . . . .