Saturday, April 18, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #21

Today we move to my nightstand, where we find the books I'm currently reading. For easy access, the book on the bottom is 1975's The People's Almanac, which has been my go-to browsing book for many months now. It's the lesser-remembered predecessor of The Book of Lists, and it's a truly fascinating tome. I've marked about a dozen things inside that I'd like to write about some day, but that will indeed have to wait for another day. In the meantime, this excerpt from a 2009 Goodreads review might whet your appetite:
"A perfect a snapshot of the remains of the American counterculture in the mid-1970s. The Almanac was compiled to be a one-stop source for the informed, progressive citizen's informational needs, and in that spirit covers basic facts about world history and geography. But reflecting the expansive, slightly paranoid tenor of the post-Nixon era, it's also full of psychic predictions, conspiracy theories, alternative history, analyses of contemporary events, book excerpts, lists of mail-order resources and notable trivia."
Here's the top of the nightstand, which by the way is a piece of oddball family furniture that dates to my great-grandfather.

These are, generally, the books I was reading when I snapped all of the Stay-at-home shelfies in one fell swoop on March 29. And, yes, I staged them to make the pile a little more tidy for the photograph. I was in the middle of reading Jonathan Safran Foer's We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast when the COVID-19 pandemic went full bloom. So, full disclosure, it's been hard to go back to that depressing nonfiction book in the midst of this stressful moment.

Instead, I regressed into my childhood. Since about 1979, M for Mischief had been a book I was fascinated by but never actually read. As an elementary school kid, I was intrigued by its promise of making magic from everyday objects. So I read it in a day-and-a-half this month. It's fine. But I would have found it more magical as a kid living in New Jersey in the waning days of the disco era.

Are You in the House Alone? is another browsing book, a fun compendium of made-for-TV movies from the 1970s through early 1990s. William Shatner, for one, made a lot of TV movies, including one, Pray for the Wildcats, that essentially features villainous Andy Taylor chasing Mike Brady and Captain Kirk through the desert on dirtbikes. The 1970s, man. What a time!

So that was March 29. Here's what the top of the nightstand looks like today. I am thoroughly enjoying Bryson's book on Shakespeare.

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