Hey Michelle and Barry –
Gahh! We missed your moving day!
We really wanted to swing by and help load the truck or whatever, but the kid had a game. We cruised by afterwards, hoping you might still be around, but you were already gone. Ah well – we’ll miss you. You’d better let us know when you come back thru town!
Anyway – we saw this box of books out in front of your place, and didn’t know if you had forgotten it or wanted to donate it. Actually, the new people were already there, but they had just kinda shoved the box outta the way. Their loss; looks like there’s some good stuff in here.
(We tried to introduce ourselves, but they were pretty busy unloading some really tacky gold-painted furniture — no, like all of it was painted gold – and some leopard-skin rugs – hopefully fake. [What the heck?!] The dad wouldn’t even say “Hi”; his face was buried in his phone the whole time, tweeting or something.)
So, do you want these books or should we just donate them?
In case you’re not sure which box we’re talking about (cuz you have a billion books), here’s what was inside:
Oh, this – come on, now – why did you leave this one? Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Girlhood Among Ghosts – kind of a modern classic – half memoir/half fiction or mythology or something, right? With Chinese/American cross-cultural elements – being an immigrant, being American… yeah, it was on a syllabus in college, but I didn’t actually read it. I’ll prob hang on to this one.
Seveneves! Yes! I read this one. Good ol’ Neal Stephenson. Huh. Never woulda pegged y’all for sci-fi — wish I’d known, we coulda nerded out. Of course, this guy is “hard sci-fi” and actually prefers the term “speculative fiction”, so I bet you went at this from a sciencey angle – which works, cuz this one is pretty gritty on that kinda detail. Moon blows up, we have just enough time to put a few folks into orbit, and then… can humanity survive long enough to repopulate Earth when it becomes habitable again, sometime in the distant future — legit sci-fi.
Oh yeah – kind of a theme here: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. I remember seeing this on your table and was gonna ask to borrow it. It’s mine now – ha ha. Scary stuff though: 20% to 50% of plant and animal species could go extinct during the 21st century? Geez.
Light of the World: A Memoir – oh hang on, this is Elizabeth Alexander – she read poetry at that big party you had… what was it… 8 years ago? Oh right – geez – she lost her husband, didn’t she? This is about them and her life afterwards. Holy cow – she was nom’d for a Pulitzer for this? — Man, you had some huge folks at that party.
Another prize winner, and the Nobel goes to…. Toni Morrison. You guys left Song of Solomon. The modern American classics section of your home library is looking thinner and thinner, cuz I’m gonna hang onto this one, too. I’ve only read Jazz – in college.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life – YES! This is William Finnegan’s memoir, right? Surfing all around the Pacific, on all these different islands and different cultures – he was a war correspondent wasn’t he? A journalist or something? Well duh – you’re from Hawaii; of course you’re gonna read a Pulitzer-winning surf memoir. This dude looks hardcore. Keepin’ it.
Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – I always thought this guy was interesting, kind of an eccentric adventurer – maybe a little controversial. Writer, politician, police reformer, New York Governor – kinda did it all. Maybe not a saint, but def a man of action.
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Faith and Truth in the New China by Evan Osnos, another award-winner. I was there about 20 years ago; can’t remember if we ever talked about it. It’s changed a lot. It seems like a pretty different place from its image. What could be more fascinating to a politics, economics, history fan than a combo of severe authoritarian control and a wild west economy? I mean, they have two Disneylands! This guy Osnos lived there as The New Yorker‘s correspondent and was part of a Pulitzer-winning Chicago Tribune team.
It’s like, you only read the best books. There is no Dan Brown in this box. If we ever leave a box of books behind, we’re gonna make sure it’s this impressive.
Oh, bingo – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Wait – this dude won a Nobel in economics? Ok, I know I am supposed to have read this book, but I just haven’t. Got my copy now. It’s something about quick, instinctive decision-making versus methodical, logical thinking, and how the two work together. This is top of the stack – boom.
Yeah, you know – unless you left these by mistake, and you want us to ship them to you (no problem, of course), we’re just gonna keep them. This is a pretty stellar To-Be-Read pile.
Michelle and Barry, we can’t tell you how much we’re gonna miss y’all. Say “Hi” to the girls for us.