Posts with tag: books/reading/writing

First Paragraph:

There was once a. boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself—not just sometimes, but always.

—Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Treats received today from my good friend Will Leathem. I read them immediately.

Books can have so many lives. I wonder where this one has been.

Recent Arrivals – March 2021

All these acquisitions, and any that aren’t here but on the way, are justified by the fact that…I wanted them.

Joan Didion
Joan Didion in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in April 1967. Photo by Ted Streshinsky.

One of the sexiest faces I’ve ever seen.

I imagine her attention falling to me, just for a moment, in this crowd, out on the street. I feel her size me up, a knowing critical gaze. Is she instantly writing my story behind those eyes?

She finds me…acceptable.

It’s enough.

Currently re-reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (1919-2021)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, champion of Beat Generation writers passed away this week at 101 years of age.

Here’s the last line of “I Am Waiting” from A Coney Island of the Mind (1958.)

“…and I am awaiting perpetually and forever a renaissance of wonder.”


The Final Sentence contains some riches. It’s handy if you are looking for something you’ve already read. but beware of spoilers. Use the search feature instead of browsing. Or not.

Recent Arrivals – Feb. 2021

From Prospero’s Books Kansas City, The Dusty Bookshelf Lawrence, KS, and my Library of America subscription. The James Corey is a gift from my daughter Marilyn because she knows The Expanse is my favorite TV show.

First Paragraph:

“I was stunned by Mary Karr’s memoir, The Liars’ Club. Not just by its ferocity, its beauty, and by her delightful grasp of the vernacular, but by its totality—she is a woman who remembers everything about her early years.”

—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I found a copy of this book at The Dusty Bookshelf here in Lawrence, KS today. It’s reputation proceeds it but I would have purchased it on the strength of the epigram alone.

“When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.”

—An old Jew of Galicia
The Captive Mind, Czeslaw Milosz, 1953

First Paragraph:

It was only toward the middle of the twentieth century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the real­ization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision in disputes on principles to which, until then, they had never paid any attention. In their eyes, the philosopher had always been a sort of dreamer whose divagations had no effect on real­ity. The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless. Therefore the great intellec­tual work of the Marxists could easily pass as just one more variation on a sterile pastime. Only a few in­dividuals understood the causes and probable conse­quences of this general indifference.

—Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind, 1953

Always be Reading

Boy reading in bombed bookstore. London, 1940.
Boy reading in bombed bookstore. London, 1940.

What would stop you from reading?

The Long Room Of The Old Library At Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
Photo by Jonathan Singer.

On the reading page for Terrible Ideas, the Currently Reading section now contains 9 books. The list doesn’t contain any books that I want to give up on, so it’s time to get moving.

The On Deck section, on the other hand, is completely ridiculous. I’m going to have to do some revising and reconsidering there. There are forty books “on deck” and for some of them, I should consider adding a “wishful thinking” section. There are also quite a few unlisted recent acquisitions that are trying to push for the top of that list. It’s time for a little planning and purging.

There’s definitely going to be more poetry read. Poetry increases strength and builds muscles.

What are the books on your list for 2021?

First Paragraph:

It was one of the mixed blocks over on Central Avenue, the blocks that are not yet all Negro. I had just come out of a three-chair barber shop where an agency thought a relief barber named Dimitrios Aleidis might be working. It was a small matter. His wife said she was willing to spend a little money to have him come home.

I never found him, but Mrs. Aleidis never paid me any money either.

—Raymond Chandler. “Farewell, My Lovely.” 1940

Cover. Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury, 1962

First Paragraph:

The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm. He came along the street of Green Town, Illinois, in the late cloudy October day, sneaking glances over his shoulder. Somewhere not so far back, vast lightnings stomped the earth. Somewhere, a storm like a great beast with terrible teeth could not be denied.”

—Ray Bradbury. “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” 1962

First Paragraph:

It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

—Raymond Chandler. “The Big Sleep.” 1939

Today’s Arrival.

After a few random samples and the Dave Eggers* forward, I am really looking forward to digging into this one.

First Paragraph:

“I debated for a time as to whether I ought to open these memoirs at the beginning or at the end—that is, if I would start out with my birth or with my death. Granting that the common practice may be to begin with one’s birth, two considerations led me to adopt a different method: the first is that I am not exactly an author recently deceased, but a deceased man recently an author, for whom the tomb was another cradle; the second is that this would make the writing wittier and more novel. Moses, who also recounted his own death, did not put it at the commencement but at the finish: a radical difference between this book and the Pentateuch.”

—Machado De Assis. “The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas.” 1881

*Eggers is the founder of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, also both worth your time.

Madeleine L’Engle

Book Slipcase - The Wrinkle in Time Quartet
Madeleine L’Engle – The Wrinkle in Time Quartet

This month’s installment from the Library of America arrived today. The Wrinkle in Time Quartet (which I believe became a quintet before L’Engle passed.)

I haven’t read any of these, but maybe I can get Marilyn Jane to read A … the rest “Madeleine L’Engle”


People in a public space.
Photo by Timon Studler.

Nine year old Nina is sharing a treat with Count Rostov at the Hotel Metropol, Moscow.

“So,” said the Count, “are you looking forward to your visit home?”

“Yes, it will be nice to see everyone,” said Nina. “But when

the rest “Everybody”

Cover photo, A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles

First Paragraph:

At half past six on the twenty-first of June 1922, when Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov was escorted through the gates of the Kremlin onto Red Square, it was glorious and cool. Drawing his shoulders back without breaking stride, the Count inhaled the air like one fresh from a swim. The sky was the very blue that the cupolas of St. Basil’s had been painted for. Their pinks, greens, and golds shimmered as if it were the sole purpose of a religion to cheer its Divinity. Even the Bolshevik girls conversing before the windows of the State Department Store seemed dressed to celebrate the last days of spring.

—Amor Towles. “A Gentleman in Moscow.” 2016