September 20, 2009
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What’s the problem with publishing? Why don’t people read anymore?

Look at me.

It’s Sunday morning. Linda’s asleep, it’s too soon to start the scones. I’m shopping for reading. I’ve got two urgent books queued up (history of weblogs and Israeli political fiction), but the horizon is empty and it’s probably time to look at the 27 books in my shopping cart and pick out what comes next.

I’ve wanted to read Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland since it came out, and wanted to read it even more since the Republican party made its 2008 journey from derangement to insanity. But, obviously, I ought to begin with his first book, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus . Last time I looked, that was out of print because the newer book’s success had cleaned out the warehouses. It’s back, now. Yay.

But wait! I’ve been meaning since April to check out The Landmark Herodotus . I know exactly how long ago I added it to my shopping cart, because Amazon remembers for me.

Oh, and now that you mention it, the shopping cart still has Tony Barlow’s Sharp Teeth , which sounds like your average everyday erotic werewolf book — have you seen how loaded Barnes and Noble’s back shelves are with these? — except that this one got terrific reviews. And it's in verse. Verse!

Yesterday, a Tinderbox user talked me into a reading a pair of new books about the New Deal . So the shopping cart isn’t getting any smaller. Just looking around at what else is in there. Mary Beard on Pompeii: great reviews, she’s been writing up a storm. Waverly Root on The Food Of France, which Druzinsky commends and which should lead to nutritious fall dinners, which Barry Goldwater seems unlikely to do. And a couple of dozen more.

And did I meantion I’ve got a stack of roughly 30 issues of the Times Literary Supplement that I want to scan for reading ideas?

Oh dear. Whenever I despair of a Tinderbox tire-kicker who simply can’t make up his or her mind to go ahead and buy the thing so they can get on with writing their book or solving their research problem or cracking their case, I think of the immense amount of work it takes to sell me on buying a lousy book.