Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Books on the Edge of My Attention Span

What the hell does that mean? 

www.examiner.com.au  Picture: Phillip Biggs

Living in New York City means having limited space for books, so I generally use the vast resources of the New York Public Library.

Of course, that’s like a chocoholic getting the keys to Willy Wonka’s factory, so I end up with many more books on hand than I’ll actually read.

People talk about the books they read all the time. I’m going to talk about the books I wanted to read, but didn’t. More often than not, they go back to the library unmolested by my eyes.

But first, a digression – I used to pooh-pooh electronic reading devices. Then I got a Galaxy Tab and discovered NYPL applications that enabled me to read books that were less accessible (read: volumes with immense waiting lists, or obscure enough not to warrant actual copies in house).

I came to Game of Thrones on HBO rather late, midway through season five, and I had never read the books. The wait for a volume through the library is interminable, but I discovered electronic versions available. So, I became one of those people I disdained – subway riders reading on tablets rather than carrying the actual volumes with them.

That said, I am nearing the end of the third volume, A Storm of Swords.

I have the fourth volume, A Feast for Crows, downloaded and waiting for me, although I may take a break once I finish Swords.

Also on my device are Three Poems by Josh Ashbery

 and Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.

In addition, two volumes I have borrowed hard copies of, as well, just to “have available” should the mood have struck me.

Now, on to what I have on hand from the library…

The Book of the Dead by Orikuchi Shinobu (Jeffrey Angles, tran.).

I actually started this the other day, and am on the fence as to whether I will continue. The premise is fascinating as we the tale opens up on the perspective of a ghost gaining consciousness in a crypt in eighth century Japan.

Then, there's The 60s: The Story of a Decade by contributors to The New Yorker,

Letters to Vera by Vladimir Nabokov (also on my tablet),

Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers,

The Best American Poetry 2016 (I own a copy, signed by a bunch of contributors, so this is my “reading” copy),

Falling Ill: Last Poems by C.K. Williams,

and lastly, the whimsical Literary Starbucks : fresh-brewed, half-caf, no-whip bookish humor  byJill Poskanzer, Wilson Josephson, and Nora Katz ; illustrated by Harry Bliss.

I’m actually halfway through this funny and thoughtful book about famous authors (alive and dead) going to Starbucks. It’s based on a tumblr and is clever enough to keep me remotely interested.

Clearly I can't read all of these, but I thought I'd share what I wanted to read if I had one of those spells Hermione used in the Harry Potter seriesto turn back time. 

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