Lookahere at this book.

I like books. You like books. We both browse at every bookstall we pass, and no matter how crowded our shelves, we'll always have more books coming into our libraries than going out. Here are some of mine that I wanted to show you.


Random   Ask me anything about my library.  
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
If the children in my life grew up thinking of the Grinch as a cartoon or movie character, I would feel I had failed them.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

If the children in my life grew up thinking of the Grinch as a cartoon or movie character, I would feel I had failed them.

A Christmas Book

Ye Lessone reede, inne commentarie illye-riméd ~
Thrue thatte abouve, wyth-oute besmirchéd ande begriméd,
Whylst, lo! wyth-inne, ye gloriouse artes be-token:
"Judge notte eke bye ye couver of ye Chrystmass booken."

Joy to the World: A Victorian Christmas

I’d no sooner put up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving than I’d dye Easter eggs on Valentine’s Day. One concession I do make to holiday overlap, though, is to bring my Christmas books out of their storage on a high library shelf on Thanksgiving morning and stack them here and there in the living room before the familial hordes arrive. Otherwise they’d get such limited play that it would seem hardly worth the effort of curating them year-round.

Here’s one I bought used many years ago. I’ve tried to show enough of the text for you to glean that it’s a small but serious historical treatise on Christmas celebration in the Victorian era. There are chapters on the development of the church’s view of Christmas celebration, and the evolution of Christmas trees and cards and so forth, and even four back pages of “Notes on the Ephemera & Collectibles” in dauntingly dense blocks of tiny print. I feel sure that at some time or other I read the whole book and perhaps hailed passersby with a “Hey, listen to this!” and made them listen to a host of Christmas past. But now I just treat it like a grown-up picture book, in idle moments turning a few pages with an oooooh and an aaaaaah and letting the Christmas spirit wash over me out of the gorgeousness of its illustrations.

And so I leave off further commentary and invite you to scroll back up to the photos and do the same.

The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert

I bought this book at Costco the other day, purely on impulse. Even if I weren’t interested in learning more about wine (and the info contained herein is interesting and helpful, but minimal), I would have bought the book anyway. Hey, a SCRATCH & SNIFF book! For grownups! Who could resist that? Not this bibliophile. And about wine, to boot? Not this bibulobibliophile.

The “Earth” page lets you smell something called “terroir” (fancy winespeak) and leather. Other pages have pears, bacon, butter, grass, stuff like that. There are also discussions of odors like wet dog, burnt rubber, and cat pee, but no scratches & sniffs for those. (If there had been, I’m thinking cat pee would have been the dominant note wafting from the book on its display shelf, and I wouldn’t have bought it after all.)

Tucked into a pocket in the back there’s a Handy Dandy Map of the Whole Wine World. Hand me a wine glass; I’m going exploring.

The Thurber Carnival

I don’t know how many people nowadays would have ever heard of James Thurber. Perhaps they’ve heard of him as the author of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” since there’s another in the long series of treatments of that story out in movie form just lately. He wrote his share of pure fiction of the Mitty sort, but he was also popular as a writer of the humorous essay, of the type we might call “non-fiction” if we were inclined to extend the same leniency to his “non” as we’ve always extended to Mark Twain’s.

He wrote for the New Yorker in its heyday, under Harold Ross, and he was also a creditable cartoonist — no mean feat for a man nearly blind. Many — or most — or all? — of these pieces were collected in book form, and at some forgotten moment of my youth, after he was moldy in the grave, I met up with one of these books. Eventually I read, I believe, every last one of them, or at least every one that was available in the public library in my town. At present I have three Thurber books in my library, enough to meet the sporadic demand for my rereading or lending out.

The Thurber Carnival is a sort of demi-omnibus volume, being a collection of pieces excerpted from his other collections. Happily, it contains my two favorite Thurber essays, with his cartoon illustrations.

The one with the shoe-hurling lady is called “The Night the Bed Fell.” Spoiler alert: The bed didn’t really fall.

The other one is “The Day the Dam Broke.” Spoiler alert: The dam didn’t really break.

In some of Thurber’s essays, you see, he wrote about funny stuff that happened, and in others he wrote funnily about stuff that didn’t happen.

House Beautiful Adequate
At interior decoration, as at virtually all domestic skills — and, let’s face it, most general living skills as well — I’m more book-learned than I am proficient. Book-learned I am, though, after many years of poring over decorating magazines and thumbing through library books from the 747 section and littering them with post-it notes asking myself questions like “bdrm — too dk?”
If any giddy visitor were to gaze right past the overall slapdashery of my home and beg me to recommend a good, basic instructional book for the decorating novice, I’d grab another post-it and jot down two names: Lauri Ward and Lynette Jennings. These are the ladies whose principles have made the most sense to me and, where I’ve actually applied them, have most noticeably increased my house’s aesthetic pleasure to its occupants. And therefore, since decorating books not only tend to be large and unwieldy but also tend to pass out of style almost as fast as last month’s Vogue, the three volumes pictured above are among the few that I’ve held onto through several library winnowings.
When it comes to interior decoration, here’s the Straight Talk: accept No Compromise, and Use What You Have.

House Beautiful Adequate

At interior decoration, as at virtually all domestic skills — and, let’s face it, most general living skills as well — I’m more book-learned than I am proficient. Book-learned I am, though, after many years of poring over decorating magazines and thumbing through library books from the 747 section and littering them with post-it notes asking myself questions like “bdrm — too dk?”

If any giddy visitor were to gaze right past the overall slapdashery of my home and beg me to recommend a good, basic instructional book for the decorating novice, I’d grab another post-it and jot down two names: Lauri Ward and Lynette Jennings. These are the ladies whose principles have made the most sense to me and, where I’ve actually applied them, have most noticeably increased my house’s aesthetic pleasure to its occupants. And therefore, since decorating books not only tend to be large and unwieldy but also tend to pass out of style almost as fast as last month’s Vogue, the three volumes pictured above are among the few that I’ve held onto through several library winnowings.

When it comes to interior decoration, here’s the Straight Talk: accept No Compromise, and Use What You Have.



The Crime Wave at Blandings
This elderly, battered volume is one of my treasures, for, in spite of my vast enjoyment of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the title story in this collection is my hands-down favorite from P.G. Wodehouse. I don’t know why titled Britons sneaking around their landed estate popping each other with an air rifle makes me guffaw more than, say, cow-creamer larceny, but it does. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve realized it’s been a few years since I last read it, and it’s high time.

The Crime Wave at Blandings

This elderly, battered volume is one of my treasures, for, in spite of my vast enjoyment of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the title story in this collection is my hands-down favorite from P.G. Wodehouse. I don’t know why titled Britons sneaking around their landed estate popping each other with an air rifle makes me guffaw more than, say, cow-creamer larceny, but it does. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve realized it’s been a few years since I last read it, and it’s high time.

Yo, Millard Fillmore!

Here’s another book I bought because of my fondness for books about memorizing stuff, especially those that employ the technique of translating data into outlandish visualizations. 

For my previous posts about “memory” books, start here, and then look at this one, and then this one, and then this one.

This method really works. After taking the photos, I sat down in a lawn chair and buzzed through the first few pages in about fifteen minutes, and with minimal effort I think I succeeded in memorizing the first ten Presidents in order. Check me.

Wash a ton
Atoms
Chef’s son
Mad sun
Money row
A dam
Jacks
Van bureau
Hairy van
Tie lure

See? Easy.

Basic Economics
Thomas Sowell is one of my all-time favorite thinkers, and I own and have read several of his books. Honesty compels me to confess, however, that this is not one of them. I’ve read in it a good bit; and through many years’ worth of his articles, columns, interviews on TV and YouTube, and those other books, I’m confident that I’m thoroughly familiar with his ideas, economic and otherwise. But there’s really no excuse for my never having read the basic Basic straight through from cover to cover, and therefore I resolve right now to do so as soon as ever I can fit it in. Bear me witness, and keep me accountable.

Basic Economics


Thomas Sowell is one of my all-time favorite thinkers, and I own and have read several of his books. Honesty compels me to confess, however, that this is not one of them. I’ve read in it a good bit; and through many years’ worth of his articles, columns, interviews on TV and YouTube, and those other books, I’m confident that I’m thoroughly familiar with his ideas, economic and otherwise. But there’s really no excuse for my never having read the basic Basic straight through from cover to cover, and therefore I resolve right now to do so as soon as ever I can fit it in. Bear me witness, and keep me accountable.

Everything That Rises Must Converge
As both a lover of literature and a native Southerner, I feel that I’m more or less required to own books by Flannery O’Connor. And so I do. See? Here’s one of them. But, although I admire Miss O’Connor’s writing, I can’t say I’ve ever been satisfied that I grasp more than, oh, about 75% of her meaning. Once I even read a collection of her short stories along with a volume of her letters written while she was writing those stories, making comments to her correspondents about the writing of them…and I still didn’t totally understand them. Every time I read them, they leave me pensive and disturbed, but with no more profound internal summation of my thoughts than Huh. And then I go away, and a few years later I go back and read them again.

Everything That Rises Must Converge


As both a lover of literature and a native Southerner, I feel that I’m more or less required to own books by Flannery O’Connor. And so I do. See? Here’s one of them. But, although I admire Miss O’Connor’s writing, I can’t say I’ve ever been satisfied that I grasp more than, oh, about 75% of her meaning. Once I even read a collection of her short stories along with a volume of her letters written while she was writing those stories, making comments to her correspondents about the writing of them…and I still didn’t totally understand them. Every time I read them, they leave me pensive and disturbed, but with no more profound internal summation of my thoughts than Huh. And then I go away, and a few years later I go back and read them again.