Reading Matters

Reading Matters

Some people wake up and say, “What will I wear today?” I wake up and say, “What will I read today?”

With the Memorial Day weekend looming, I took a field trip to the Strand Bookstore yesterday. I allowed myself 30 minutes to find a book for the holiday. If I hadn’t set a time limit, I would have spent the day there. As it was, it wasn’t until the half hour was almost up that I found the book. Not that I need another book: The stack of read and unread books by my bed could topple over at any moment. But if you love the look, feel and smell of paper as I do, you know what an addiction to books is all about. Let’s hope it’s a disease for which there will never be a cure.

I started the hunt looking for Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers.” I found it, but the (used) copy was dusty, yellowed and not aesthetically pleasing to the eye or touch. That’s not to say the contents would not have been edifying. But sometimes you just have to judge a book by its cover.

I trotted to the reference section in the basement. There’s always something of interest there. I fingered a copy of the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. I know I’ll break down and get it eventually, just not yesterday.

Back up to British History and a quick trawl along the shelf devoted to Queen Victoria (my go-to monarch for fun reading). Slim pickings, and nothing that I had not already read.

Desperation was setting in. This usually happy hunting ground was anything but.

And then on a side table—selling for full price ($27) in this age of ($16.26)—was the one that caught my eye: Harold Evans’ just-published “Do I Make Myself Clear? Why Writing Well Matters.” The former editor of London’s Sunday Times and Times should know of what he speaks. This will be a pithy (and potentially humiliating) read. Pray to God Evans’ blue pencil never gets near this blog.

Thanks, Strand, for the instant gratification.

Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway, 212.473.1452,

Strand Bookstore on Broadway at E. 12th St. (Courtesy Strand Bookstore)


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