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:


 Poetry: The new (and gorgeous) C.P. Cavafy 

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 

Quirky: Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart & Briony Morrow-Cribbs (Illustrator) 


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?

Message Edited by Bethanne on 05-12-2009 11:20 AM
Message Edited by Bethanne on 05-12-2009 11:21 AM
by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎05-12-2009 12:14 PM

Jeez, Bethanne - ask a tough one, willya?


This requires much thought.

by on ‎05-13-2009 12:04 AM
I'm going to have to think about this for a while
by on ‎05-13-2009 02:20 AM

Sorry, not thinking today, only feeling.  No need for thougths so deep they drive me into the ground..  Brain on overdrive.  What do you want out of life?  What do you want that book to tell you?  Is it all about the now, or the future? - or the history of life, reflecting now?  Heck, I'm always at a loss, from day to day.  What the heck is going to change a mood?  But, do I want it to change?  What the heck will enlighten me today?  What the heck will bring me out there, into that which will touch me with something that no words can express,  but do?


I open a book.  If it speaks to me, I know it is something worth the effort I put into it for today.  Tomorrow?  Who knows.

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