my shelf tippeth over

photoForget what Stevie Smith said in that poem.  I am waving AND drowning.  In a steady wave of essays.  It’s just that season, and while at times I feel I’ve barely crested one wave before another crashes on my head, I remember what a good swimmer I am and just float through the rough patches, on my back, looking up into the sky.  There’s always an end to it.  The hardest part is not the grading.  It’s this bad book buying habit.  All of these books, and so little time.  About half way through Flamethrowers and still interested, but . . . will it pick up the pace once she gets to Italy?  Where will I make room for this book review I promised to do for that marketing rep at Little Brown?  And from there, what to read next?


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what kind of reader are you?

Love Laura E. Kelly’s Infographic “Which Book Reader Species Are You?” via GalleyCat.

Me?  Compulsive abuser, promiscuous book snob and multitasking note scribbling critic.  Et tu?  What kind of reader are you?

More often hate than love books, but when you love you love deeply and in the most eloquent of fashions.  Like to discuss books but find book clubs too “mainstream.” ~ The Critic


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a good book can be deadly

We readers know books are weapons, but don’t we usually use that term to refer to the ways they make us smarter, happier, more compassionate and better informed?  A good book is a deadly weapon that can ward off all sorts of evil — boredom and bad taste above all.  But what if those hefty tomes lining your shelves could actually inflict physical harm?  In this funny essay “Clunkers,” James McWilliams considers as if for the first time just how much “a book — with its sharp corners, graspable spine and aerodynamic design — could take you down.”  That Russian novel in the seatpocket in front of you, deadlier than any electronic device left on during takeoff.

Have you ever hurled a book at someone?  I must confess to once heaving a huge Webster’s Dictionary at my insolent older brother, who was always bigger and stronger and capable of pinning me down with crazy wrestling moves.  Unfortunately, he ducked as I watched said book sail through the air and straight into a decorative ceramic platter, humiliating cheers of you are sooo busted stinging my ears as each shattered piece fell to the floor.  Touch Down!  On the other hand, the man I keep is fond of telling us how he used books as shields, placing them inside his pants so that when his mother reached around to swat him, he could smirk and make a clean getaway.

Here are the opening paragraphs of McWilliams’ essay.  A funny read for a relaxing Sunday!

On a recent flight from El Paso to Austin, just before takeoff, I leaned forward to stuff my paperback copy of “The Brothers Karamazov” into the seat pocket. A flight attendant named Susan immediately appeared over my shoulder to scold me for placing the book there, explaining how it could dislodge during the ascent and cause injury. I removed it, pointed to the title and explained to her that if the book — granted, a hefty one — caused an injury, the wound would be spiritual rather than physical. She wasn’t amused (although my seatmate was).

My next reaction was to dismiss her request as the absurd directive of an overcautious flight attendant. I fly all the time and had never before been asked to do such a thing. I assumed that was exactly where books were supposed to go. But, to be fair, I also had to admit that I understand virtually nothing about airplanes, like, for starters, how they take off, stay aloft and land. For all I knew, people were routinely whacked into midflight delirium by literary projectiles. In any case, not wanting to be booted off a flight leaving the Texas-Mexico border because of a dispute over a potentially lethal Russian novel, I relented, held the book tightly in my lap and lowered my head to read a chapter called “The Grand Inquisitor.”

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