Booky joy

Big evening at the library yesterday. We went out for dinner at an easy-going local spot (two icy-cold Becks after the stunningly hot day), and afterwards went to return some books that were overdue. I wandered over to the “new books” rack and hit the jackpot: four books I’ve really been looking forward to reading: the new Alan Furst, Spies of Warsaw; new efforts from Sue Henry and Dana Stabenow, with their female Alaskan protagonists; the new Alexander McCall Smith Precious Ramotswe, The Miracle at Speedy Motors; and—slightly less exciting but still promising pleasure—the new James Lee Burke, Swan Peak.

I’ve always got two or three books going, turning to each based on cheap random propinquity. (All of us read all the time: at table, brushing our teeth, fixing dinner, while we’re theoretically watching a ballgame…. H can even read in the car without getting sick, a skill her mother and I deeply envy.) One is usually history or biography (Drew Gilpin Faust’s brilliant This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War is my book of the year so far), one is often politics or political philosophy (Gary Wills is a favorite), one is almost always a mystery or atmospheric thriller (Furst is superb).

We have a much loved, very fine, public library, way too small, but extremely friendly and well run and staffed. My final (believe me: Final) public office is acting as the chair of its Board of Trustees. We have one profoundly serious ongoing goal: to promote and eventually secure and oversee the building of a badly needed new facility. I have one other goal that is a bit less serious: to entertain, whenever possible, a motion to adjourn within a half-hour of calling our meetings to order. We take care of business, but I hate long meetings—I’ve sat through more than my share and they’re almost never necessary—and when I’m in the chair, I’m ruthless. After all, there’s a good book waiting at home.

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