Let me save you $20 or so, by summarizing a promising-sounding but ultimately disappointing book, by Steve Leveen. The Little Guide to your Well-Read Life sounds so, so great to your average bookaholic. Alas, alas.
Here are the contents: make a list of books you want to read, make a
list of books you have read, listen to audiobooks, consider joining or
creating a bookclub. Oops, I forgot: read, reflect, and summarize; or
whatever that high-school guide used to say. It had some funky acronym,
like R3T or T3S, or some such. No matter. Very disappointing.
Leveen’s company, Levenger,
is one of my occasional obsessions, however. Once I wrote him a letter,
because they were selling a table on which was inscribed the names of
famous writers of the English past. I couldn’t help but notice that the
name of one of the Big Three (or Big Four, depending upon your teachers’
proclivities) was misspelled–unless someone there thought Herbert
Spencer was in the same category as Shakespeare. When I wrote to Mr.
Leveen, I suggested that the author of The Faerie Queene would
probably be dispirited at best to find his name misspelled on a
nine-hundred-dollar table. I did get a very charming, hand-written note
in return, and the table disappeared from the catalog.
Fortunately, I skimmed Leveen’s book in Barnes and Noble and didn’t
fork over any cash (well, not for that, at least; what I did buy will
soon be revealed). In a great piece of luck, though, I was browsing at
one of our local independents, when I spied a bound galley of Ghosting
on the half-off shelf. (I heard an interview with the author on NPR,
and the book sounded just wonderful. It’s a memoir by a woman who spent
years ghostwriting everything you can imagine for a flamboyant British
publisher [the name of whom is revealed in many British
newspapers]–everything including love letters!) Well, I wasn’t going to
pay 50% of the cover price for a galley that says “NOT FOR SALE” right
on the front, so I asked the guy behind the counter how much it was. A
fellow clerk said it was half price, while he simultaneously said, “Oh,
you can just take it,” which I happily and quickly did.