John Klossner

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Klossner: The pile-next-to-my-bed book club

Federal Computer Week's recent Insider blog on a call to arms (call to pages?) for
a FCW online book club is intriguing to me. Being a cartoonist has
always seemed to be a good cover for sitting around and reading all
day. I am a reading addict. I am unable to walk by anything printed
without picking it up. My family can tell you that I have problems
taking out recyclables because I will pick up two-week-old newspapers
and months-old magazines and start reading them. I don't quite
understand the print vs. digital debate -- to me, reading is reading,
whether on a monitor, a book or the side of a cereal box.

Because reading is part of my work, I like to keep my recreational
reading as recreational as possible, and I lean toward whatever
seems appealing at the time. I don't think I'd be a good book group
participant because I wouldn't handle the "required reading" aspect
of the experience. I find myself getting interested in a book someone
recommended several years ago and reading something I found under the
couch with equal enthusiasm. However, I'm all for any opportunities
to sit around with wine and cookies. Oh, and books, of course.

Next to my bed I have an organic pile of books. I say organic because
it seems to grow and shrink under its own power, no matter what
contribution or subtraction I have made to it. This is an inventory
of my bedside book club, and the sources for these books.

(I include their Amazon.com page as a link. This is not meant as an
endorsement of that site -- I wanted to have consistent references. I
would actually recommend finding a small independent bookstore
somewhere, preferably one that serves cookies, and sitting with
the book, maybe fantasizing about living in a quiet small town and
owning a bookstore where everyone could gather and share cookie
recipes and complain about Amazon.com.)

Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston is a collection of
stories on private-sector abuse of tax breaks, regulations, etc. by
the Pulitzer Prize-winning N.Y. Times reporter. I heard his interview
on National Public Radio's Fresh Air and bought the book. (Actually, my
wife bought it for me for Christmas, after I told her I wanted it.)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is this year's Pulitzer Prize-winner for fiction. My wife read it for
her book group, and I took it for my pile after she finished. I don't
know if she knows I took it.

The Plays of Oscar Wilde. I found this in a box of
items we were throwing out. My new favorite name is Nutcombe Gould, a famed British stage actor who performed in some of Wilde's plays. My copy was printed in 1914, is missing its cover,
and can pass as a beaten-up thesauras.

Cowboy Fiddler in Bob Wills' Band by Frankie McWhorter, as told to
John R. Erickson is a collection of the experiences from
the former fiddler for the Texas Playboys.  My brother- in-law is a blues musician from Houston ( and a fed employee), and he and I share interests in Texas music and music literature. It makes
shopping for him very easy.

Big Box Swindle, by Stacy Mitchell, is an exploration on
the true cost of mega-retailers - on communities, on local business,
and on consumers. My small Maine town is trying to educate itself on
the pros and cons of big store developments. This book is a community
reading project.

The Distance, by Eddie Muller, is " a crime novel
introducing Billy Nichols," written by the son of a famous San
Francisco boxing reporter. Given to me by a well-read friend.

Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker is "the beginnings of World
War II, the end of Civilization," a non-fiction collection of stories
and events that counter much of the romanticized myths of the times
leading up to and including WWII. A birthday gift from my family.

Tell the Truth Until
They Bleed by Josh Alan Friedman is a
collection of stories of blues and rock 'n' roll musicians. A gift
from my brother-in-law.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat is another of
Danticat's marvelous fictional tales about people and lives in Haiti.
A friend had given us The Farming of Bones a couple years ago, and we
have since gone out and found every Edwidge Danticat book we can get
our hands on.

Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich. "Investigations and Adventures
With Wolf-Birds." A book about the author's, and others', experiences
and studies with ravens. A loan from a friend who watches over a
flock of geese in Cambridge, MA.

A Feast Made For Laughter
by Craig Claiborne is a memoir
from the late food editor of the N.Y. Times. Includes his famous
$4,000 dinner at Chez Denis, but does not include
Russell Baker's responding piece.  I came across this in
a used book store somewhere.

The Beast of the Haitian Hills by Phillipe Thoby-Marcelin and Pierre
Marcelin is a novel from the 1940's, written by
brothers, about a Haitian man who retires to a country village. I
forgot where this came from.

Big Russ and Me
by Tim Russert, the late journalist's memoir. The book was a gift
from my mother.

If anyone wants to borrow a book, let me know.

Posted on Aug 21, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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