Today I suffered that all-too-current dilemma: I lost the charger for my e-reader, and so I could not finish the novel I’ve been happily
This meant I would have to go into the stacks (my own, I’m fraid; some of the piles in my study-cum-office have reached dangerous heights, at least for the two miniature Schnauzers who fight daily for the right to nest in my armchair while I’m gone). Here’s a sampling of what I found:
Narrative nonfiction: Michael Pollan’s paperback of In Defense of Food
Spy novel: The Arms Maker of Berlin by Dan
Women’s fiction: I’m so Happy for You by Lucinda Rosenfeld
Literary fiction: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steve Galloway
These books are, of course, sent to me by publishers as fodder for potential review and promotion. But on looking at them, I realized that I am a good test subject for that elusive concept of “the general reader,” or what was once known as “the common reader,” when the idea of having things in common was aken for granted (side note: Alan Bennett’s “The Uncommon Reader” is required reading for all ).
I don’t think we’ve lost the yearning for or idea of having things in common, mind you; but somewhere (on the road to Woodstock? In the midst of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?) we discarded the idea of commonality as a given. We don’t all read the same books – with an average of 3500 new books published each week in the United States, how could we, even if we were all reading as much as we supposedly used to read? We don’t all have the same interests, and those interests have all kinds of new programming and networking to support them, from TV channels devoted to food to web sites devoted to niche groups.
So my question for you Unabashedly Bookish types today is: What makes today’s “common” reading? What kinds of books should the all-around reader consider when constructing a list, a shelf, a life?