I just spent a while putting books on the bookshelves Caleb built for me last night, and now I feel calmer than I have in years.
While I was alphabetizing them, an insert from The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk floated out. It read:
If the riches of
or the crowns of
all the kingdoms of Europe
were laid at my feet
for my love of reading,
I would spurn them all.
I think that most of you who read this blog have the same sentiments. I certainly do. Books are the great love of my life.
A few friends emailed me asking for book suggestions this week, which is coincidental. They are going on vacation. One is coming down from Middlemarch, and wants something just as delightful. The other is going to some paradise in Florida (I hate you), and doesn’t want to read scripts.
Given those parameters, here are my suggestions for the two of you:
1. Tana French’s mystery novels, starting with In The Woods.
2. Laurence Durrell’s Alexandria series, starting with Justine, because they weave poetry out of Egypt. I read them in Borneo, with a group of famous scientists studying orangutans. “Huh, so you’re not dumb?” one of them said to me, puzzled, when he saw me reading it.
3. JFK: Reckless Youth by Nigel Hamiliton. One word: salacious.
4. The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazard, because it’s beautifully written.
5. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, because his words fly, and it’s post-apocalyptic science fiction.
6. The Leopard by Giuseppi Tomasi di Lampedusa, just because.
7. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, which I read on the beach of Hualtulco, feeling bowled over by unrequited love.
8. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, because it’s easy, and fun. I read it on the Jersey Shore.
9. Do The Window’s Open by Julie Hecht, because she is fucking neurotic and hilarious.
10.Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, because it’s a book about English aristocracy written by one of the most sneering, judgmental, romantic, and brilliant voices in 20th century literature.
My hands smell like old paper now, and I fucking love it.